The New Orleans Pelicans advance to the NBA playoffs after a 105-101 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night and will now face the Phoenix Suns in a No. 8 match at the Western Conference.
Despite the absence of Paul George’s services unfit to play in the game after entering the league’s health and safety protocols, the Clippers were able to take the run after trailing by double figures to Brandon Ingram and the Pelicans. . However, in the end, it was not enough to get the job done, as New Orleans eventually came out on top. With the win, the Pelicans are scheduled for 9pm ET with an early lead against the Suns next Sunday night.
With this loss, clippers see their season ending in a disappointing fashion with the expectations they had after adding George and Kavi Leonard to their list.
Here are three key points from the game:
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1. Ingram offers
About 90 seconds into the game, Brandon Ingram pulled an intermittent jumper to give the Pelicans the first points of the game. After some possessions he did it again. And then again, again and again. He amassed 16 points in the first quarter alone, 30-point, six-refund, six-assisted performance, one of the best of his young career.
Ranked 2nd overall in 2016, Ingram never played in the playoffs and came to the play-offs determined to change that fact.
“Man it feels wonderful,” Ingram said. “I had a chance to be in the postseason this year. Never had a successful record, never been in the postseason. It’s so beautiful to have the opportunity to showcase my talent on the biggest stage.”
For most of the second half, it seemed that Ingram and the Pelicans might not have gotten there. They slipped to a 16-point lead, with Ingram cooling off with the rest of the team. But after being suffocated by Nick Badam for extensions, Ingram finally figured out a fourth thing. He hit seven of his 30 points in the frame and had some big baskets on the way back to the Pelicans.
It was not an easy season for Ingram as injuries limited him to 55 games and he had to bear most of the attacking load as he did not play for Zion Williamson. But he’s healthy now, and when the season was in line he delivered in a key way.
“Brendan Ingram is true,” said Pelicans head coach Willie Green. “He just brought it. He’s had that look in his eye since we boarded the plane, to shoot around, he’s locked up. He’s been waiting for this kind of moment, for this kind of moment. His preparation is not on the table. He trusts players. He’s what you need and more than just one player and one person. “
2. Win the play-in competition
When the NBA first decided to re-test Play-in competition in Bubble in 2020, no one knew if it would be a short experiment or the beginning of a new season. After this week, there is no need to guess. The play-in tournament is awesome, and it’s right here.
Because of scenes like this it will continue to have its opponents, where the Clippers lost Paul George in a game and then they were eliminated from the playoffs by a team that was six games behind in the standings. Truth be told, it’s not an unfair position, but it will not be enough to divert the league.
Play-in competition enhances the regular season by adding extra emphasis to games that have been meaningless for a long time, and the revenue that additional national TV games bring is not insignificant. After all, real basketball offers the best play. These winner-take-all games are very rare in the NBA and are now available all week long. You can see how important it is for players to win these games, and there is nothing better than emotional, high-stakes basketball.
Listen to this Willy Green talk:
Friday night game is a great example. If the NBA wants to make a case for a play-off match, it will have to play this game again in a loop. Or even in the second half, it’s one of the best 24 minute basketball games we’ve seen all season. After the break both teams made a double-digit comeback as the game went into the final seconds before the Pelicans knocked it out.
3. Above the bench steps of the pelicans
All you have to do is check the final game stats and you will pass the bench points section showing that the Pelicans beat the Clippers 37-33 in that category. On paper, this is a small statistical difference that does not seem significant. However, in practice, the pelicans’ bench game was different because it came above the clutch below the stretch.
Larry Nance Jr., Trey Murphy III and Jose Alvarado sealed the Pelicans’ fourth-quarter comeback with a series of big plays to seal the victory. Nance and Murphy both played almost throughout the fourth quarter, adding 13 points, nine rebounds and three assists to the frame. Alvarado, meanwhile, had only two rebounds and one assist on the state sheet, but his buzzing plays were important at the turning point.
After Clippers’ small ball approach shocked the Pelicans in the third quarter, Willie Green responded with a small move and extended Nance to center. It turned out to be an amazing move. Nance feasted on the glass, played strong defense and brought some timely buckets.
As for Murphy, when he was drafted in the first round last year, he did what the team expected: turn off the lights. He came up with three big triples in the fourth, one of which tied the game at 4:40 with the other raising the Bells to seven, basically sealing the game at 2:10.