Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans Live Scores and Stats

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Busy play and production from high to low in the lineup helped the New Orleans Pelicans overcome the absence of leading scorer Zion Williamson, keep their season alive and avoid a historically significant loss.

Brandon Ingram scored 24 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans booked their spot in the NBA playoffs with a 105-98 victory over the Sacramento Kings in a playoff game on Friday night.

“We stayed together. We supported each other. We played for each other,” Valanciunas said. We all want to reach the play-offs. And we did that by playing good basketball, supporting each other, helping each other on defense, on offense, sharing the ball, you know, making the right plays, it’s fun to play that way in basketball.

Williamson was sidelined with a left hamstring strain that occurred while reaching the 40-point mark in a play-in loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

New Orleans bravely used a balanced approach to get to 8-5 this season without Williamson. Six players scored 10 or more points, including reserve Larry Nance Jr. (13), Najee Marshall (11) and Jose Alvarado (10).

“You get 34 points off the bench, it’s a great night for them, a tough night for us,” Kings coach Mike Brown said.

Trey Murphy III, who started in Williamson’s absence, added 16 points for New Orleans, which begins its first-round playoff series on Sunday at top-seeded Oklahoma City.

“It feels good. That was a goal at the beginning of the year,” Ingram said of earning a playoff berth. “We had another opportunity today and we came in and everyone contributed.”

De’Aaron Fox scored 35 points, and Domantas Sabonis added 23 points and 14 rebounds for the ninth-seeded Kings, who opened their showdown with New Orleans by beating No. 10 seed Golden State in the opening game.

“We were a little bit passive offensively and we weren’t as aggressive in our play tonight,” Brown said, referring to the combined 4-for-17 shooting of young starters Keegan Murray (4-for-12) and Keon Ellis. 0-for-5). ).

“We have to be able to put the ball in the paint,” added Brown, whose team outscored the field 58-44 and missed seven of 22 free throws. the free throw line and convert.”

The game was a test of the Pelicans’ ability to handle the pressure of a do-or-die game after wasting two previous chances to clinch a playoff berth at home.

New Orleans lost to the Lakers in the regular-season finale on Sunday, losing its chance at the sixth seed, before losing again to the Lakers on Tuesday. They entered the game with the Kings facing the prospect of becoming the first 49-win team in more than 50 years (Phoenix in 1972) to miss the NBA playoffs.

Instead, New Orleans improved to 6-0 against Sacramento this season, becoming the first team to go 6-0 in a season (non-playoff series) against an opponent since Denver vs. Sacramento. Minnesota in 1994-95.

“We earned it. That’s how we felt going into this game,” Nance said. “We deserve to be in the play-offs. “You can’t just win 49 games.”

The Pelicans also extended the streak of never losing a No. 7 seed in the playoffs since the NBA adopted a play-in tournament in 2020. Due to their play-in loss to the Lakers, the Pelicans enter the playoffs as the eighth seed.

The Pelicans were sloppy early, recording six turnovers in the first quarter, leading to 11 Kings points. Sacramento, missing Malik Monk (right knee) and Kevin Huerter (left shoulder), led 24-17 after a Herb Jones turnover led to a corner kick for Fox, who scored 18 points in the first half.

CJ McCollum’s layup and Murphy’s 3 helped the Pelicans quickly close the gap, and New Orleans took a 13-point lead into the second quarter.

Marshall gave the Pelicans a shock with a 3 and a steal from Murray, which he turned into a breakaway dunk. Murray injured his hip when he fell while losing the ball. He went to the dressing room shortly afterwards, but returned in the second half.

Valanciunas’ short layup and a layup by Ingram put the Pelicans ahead 53-40 late in the first half before Fox’s 3 helped the Kings cut the score to 54-45 at halftime .

But the Pelicans maintained a lead of 10 or more points for much of the second half, going up by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter.


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