The New Orleans Pelicans are in the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2018 following a nail-biting Play-In Tournament victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night at Crypto.com Arena.
Brandon Ingram led all scorers with 30 points to push his side past the Clip Show after trailing by 13 points. The Pelicans went on a 14-1 scoring run to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer by CJ McCollum, who finished the night with 19 points.
Pelicans blew 16-point lead before making comeback
New Orleans had led by as many as 16 points and went into the half up by 10, but the Clippers head coach Ty Lue made some adjustments to the lineup and his LA squad was able to get a 13-point lead before the Pelis took over. Clippers outscored the Pelicans by 20 points in the third quarter and were seemingly on their way to the playoffs.
The Clippers were without Paul George, who was ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19. During his absence, Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. gave the Clip Show some hope by scoring 27 points a piece.
Norman Powell and Robert Covington added a respective 17 and 14 points for Los Angeles, but it was not enough to push past New Orleans. For the Pelicans, Larry Nance Jr. scored 14 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Trey Murphy III contributed to the win with 14 points of his own.
Pelicans will face Suns in Round 1
In the final seconds of the game, Powell missed one of his two free throws to leave the Clippers’ deficit at two. Jonas Valanciunas made it a four-point lead for the Pelicans on the other end, and both Jackson and Morris Sr. missed a 3-point attempt that would have only brought the Clippers within one point on the scoreboard.
Now that the Pelicans are in the NBA Playoffs, questions surrounding Zion Williamson‘s availability will only increase as Williamson and the team are reportedly at odds over the decision of whether or not to play him this year. Williamson is reportedly ready to get on the court, while the franchise is unwilling to take the risk of their big man reaggravating the injury that sidelined him all season.
Pelicans will now face the league-leading Phoenix Sunsin the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Tipoff for the first game of the best-out-of-seven series is scheduled for Sunday, April 17 at 6:00 p.m. PT.
Source: Culled From Marca.