LOS ANGELES — LeBron James and Anthony Davis returned to the lineup for the Lakers in a crucial game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night, but it wasn’t enough as L.A.’s hopes of making the play-in tournament were dealt another blow in a 114-111 loss.

James, who was cleared to play after undergoing an on-court workout about an hour before tipoff, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer and finished with 38 points after missing the previous two games with a sprained left ankle.

Davis, who missed the Lakers’ past 18 games with a right mid-foot sprain, had 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. L.A. went 4-14 during that span without Davis, which was the third-worst record in the league since the All-Star break.

L.A. (31-46) has lost five straight and remains in the No. 11 spot in the Western Conference. With the No. 10 San Antonio Spurs (32-45) winning Friday night, the Lakers are now a full game back for the final play-in spot with five games remaining. The Spurs own the tiebreaker over the Lakers.

“The big picture is that it was pretty much a must-win for us, and we didn’t get the job done,” James said.

The ninth-place Pelicans (34-43) swept the season series with L.A. and won for the sixth time in eight games.

“It was big-time,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “They threw the kitchen sink at us. LeBron [scored] 38 points. Getting Davis back sparked their team a little bit. We just hung in there, and the game was back and forth. We have to win games like that. Been talking about it all season, and it will pay dividends down the stretch.”