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Ingram and Valanciunas propel the Zion-less New Orleans Pelicans past the Sacramento Kings and into the playoffs

The New Orleans Pelicans managed to overcome the absence of their leading scorer, Zion Williamson, and secure a spot in the NBA playoffs with a 105-98 victory against the Sacramento Kings in a play-in tournament game on Friday night .

Brandon Ingram led the team with 24 points, while Jonas Valanciunas contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds. The Pelicans showed great teamwork and support for each other, which helped them achieve their goal of reaching the playoffs.

Williamson was unable to play due to a left hamstring strain he suffered in an earlier game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Despite his absence, the Pelicans showed resilience, with six players scoring 10 or more points, including bench players Larry Nance Jr., Naji Marshall and Jose Alvarado.

New Orleans Pelicans (Credits: AP News)

Trey Murphy III, who started in place of Williamson, added 16 points. The Pelicans now face the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.

Ingram expressed his satisfaction at clinching a playoff berth, highlighting the team’s collective effort.

On the other hand, De’Aaron Fox of the Kings scored 35 points and Domantas Sabonis had 23 points and 14 rebounds, but that was not enough to secure a victory.

Kings coach Mike Brown acknowledged his team’s passive offensive performance and emphasized the need for improvement in finishing plays and converting free throws.