CJ McCollum Leads Pelicans Previous Spurs in Play-In Sport | Sports activities Information

By PETER FINNEY Jr, Related Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — CJ McCollum bought New Orleans going early and Brandon Ingram took over late to ship the Pelicans to Los Angeles for an opportunity on the last playoff spot.

McCollum scored 27 of his 32 factors within the first half to hold the younger Pelicans to a 113-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday evening. New Orleans will face the LA Clippers on Friday evening for the eighth playoff seed.

“He was nice,” Pelicans coach Willie Inexperienced mentioned of McCollum. “He set the tone early. He understood the second, and it type of calmed the remainder of the fellows down. We simply bought the ball to him and he made play after play, rating after rating, after which the remainder of the fellows that simply began to feed off CJ.”

Taking part in in his 57th playoff sport, McCollum displayed a relaxing presence to his youthful teammates. Rookies Herb Jones, José Alvarado and Trey Murphy performed massive chunks of the fourth quarter.

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“I used to be simply making an attempt to be locked in and aggressive early,” McCollum mentioned. “The playoffs is plenty of antics, plenty of momentum performs, plenty of forwards and backwards. You’ve bought to be steady and mentally locked in to resist a sure stage of (chaos). … There’s going to be plenty of profitable in our future.”

McCollum wasn’t alone. Ingram shook foul hassle so as to add 27 factors and heart Jonas Valanciunas added 22 factors and 14 rebounds because the Pelicans’ stars delivered below strain of New Orleans’ first postseason sport since 2018.

“The three greatest gamers for New Orleans all performed nice, and if that occurs, you’re going to lose,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich mentioned of his crew’s lack of ability to include McCollum, Ingram and Valanciunas. “We stayed in it and bought again in it, however then we made the identical errors as we did within the first three quarters – non bodily protection.”

“We’re simply enjoying for one another,” Valanciunas mentioned of mixing for 81 factors with McCollum and Ingram. “When issues wrestle, we want any individual to gradual the sport down, which (CJ) does. Subsequent step is on Friday.”

Popovich mentioned his younger crew, which averages 25 years in age, realized a lesson the laborious approach.

“It’s the playoffs, and also you’ve bought to be into folks,” Popovich mentioned. “The grunt is necessary. Ingram scored two in a row proper in the midst of the lane with nobody even touching him. It’s an ideal lesson for our guys.”

The Pelicans, who completed ninth within the West after beginning the season 3-16, will play on the Clippers with the winner going through the top-seeded Phoenix Suns within the first spherical. New Orleans beat Los Angeles in three of 4 conferences this season.

The Pelicans appeared headed to a rout, main 96-75, with 10:39 left, however the Tenth-seeded Spurs used a 16-1 run over the following 5:25 to chop it to 97-91. The Pelicans missed seven consecutive pictures throughout the run.

Ingram hit a pair of soppy jumpers within the lane and Valanciunas added a brief jumper to place New Orleans again on prime, 103-91.

Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 23 factors. Dejounte Murray had 16 factors, however he went simply 5 of 19 from the ground whereas being shadowed by Pelicans rookie defensive stopper Herb Jones.

“It’s a must to take the great and dangerous and be taught from it,” Murray mentioned. “We had guys not shoot nicely, beginning with myself. They have been bodily. I ain’t making no excuses.”

After Ingram went to the bench with three fouls 5:17 earlier than halftime, McCollum carried the Pelicans offensively. In a 14-4 run over the ultimate 3:36 of the half, McCollum made two 3-pointers and pierced the San Antonio protection for 2 finger-roll layups on robust drives into the lane as New Orleans constructed a 61-50 lead.

McCollum made 10 of his first 12 pictures, together with 2 of three from lengthy vary, regardless of drawing constant double groups.

Spurs: After eight years as a San Antonio assistant, Becky Hammon formally assumed her new place as head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. Coach Gregg Popovich mentioned he would miss Hammon’s contributions. “She’s been fantastic for some time,” Popovich mentioned. “I simply want her nicely, and I simply want she was right here.” … G Dejounte Murray had two of his 13 triple-doubles towards the Pelicans within the common season.

Pelicans: Whereas F Zion Williamson missed your entire common season with a fractured proper metatarsal, the previous No. 1 general decide was doing 360-degree dunks in pregame earlier than sliding again into his road garments. Coach Willie Inexperienced mentioned he was not searching for Williamson to return till the start of subsequent season.

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