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Lakers edge Pelicans, set up 1st-round date with Nuggets

Jeff Haynes / National Basketball Association / Getty

The Los Angeles Lakers squeaked past the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106 in Tuesday's play-in tournament showdown to secure a first-round date with the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

LeBron James had 23 points, nine boards, and nine assists to help the Lakers overcome Zion Williamson's monster 40-point, 11-rebound effort.

All five Los Angeles starters registered double digits in scoring.

It's the third time the club has secured a playoff berth via the play-in tournament.

"It revealed a lot about us and what we're made of," Lakers head coach Darvin Ham told reporters postgame, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

New Orleans tied the contest at 93 points apiece with 3:53 remaining after trailing by 18 points.

However, Williamson exited the game shortly after due to left leg soreness, per ESPN's Andrew Lopez, and the Pelicans couldn't complete the comeback.

The Lakers managed to pull off the win despite being outscored 62-36 in the paint and losing the rebounding battle by 10.

New Orleans will play the Sacramento Kings on Friday for the West's final playoff spot.

The Lakers and Nuggets squared off in last year's West finals, with the latter prevailing in a four-game sweep.

"It's an opportunity ... It's back to 0-0. Obviously, they've had a ton of success against our ball club, but there's always a new day," Ham said.

Ham added: "Everybody's ... excited about this challenge and this opportunity. Respect to Denver. They're a hell of a ball club. There's a reason why they're the defending champs, but we like our chances."

Game 1 is Saturday evening in Denver at 8:30 pm ET.

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