Pelicans survive must-win situation in overtime at Timberwolves
For once, it was nice to see an opponent of the New Orleans Pelicans collapse, blowing a formidable lead late.
There is a reason that Minnesota has the record it has. While the Timberwolves have talent and have beaten some good teams, they are not a good team.
The Pelicans were a good team when it mattered most Saturday night, rallying in regulation and controlling overtime in a 140-136 victory at Minnesota.
It was a must-win game for the Pels in the playoff chase. Golden State and San Antonio remain ahead of the Pelicans in the Western Conference chase to make the 10th and final play-in spot. The Grizzlies lost Saturday night to slip back to 3.5 games ahead of the Pelicans but the Warriors whipped Houston 113-87 to maintain a three-game edge on New Orleans.
With 4:22 to play, the Timberwolves were in control with a 119-109 lead on a basket by Karl Anthony Towns.
With two minutes left, Minnesota still led 121-115 as Towns made two free throws.
Minnesota went 0-3 from the field with a turnover the rest of the way.
In fact, the Timberwolves were 1-for-7 with two turnovers in the final 4:22.
That script is familiar as we have seen that from the Pelicans in late game situations many times this year. It was nice to see the script flipped, for a change, as it was the opponent and not the Pelicans who came apart in crunch time.
Of course the Pelicans deserve credit for helping make it happen.
In the final 4:22, New Orleans was 4-of-5 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line as Minnesota inexplicably kept fouling the Pelicans with the lead.
New Orleans won on a night where Brandon Ingram had a miserable evening, going 4-for-17 from the field with four turnovers, the Pelicans still managed to get a big road win.
That is because four other players were outstanding.
Lonzo Ball picked up Ingram with a huge night.
Ball scored a career high 33 points, had 11 rebounds, dished out eight assists and had three steals. Ball had a career best eight made three-pointers, going 8-for-17 from three point range.
Zion Williamson was dominant with 37 points, nine rebounds and he tied his career high with eight assists.
Williamson fouled out Karl Anthony Towns and Naz Reid and Jaden McDaniels with his physical, relentless driving style on the offensive end.
The Pelicans won despite committing 21 turnovers, including seven by Williamson, five by Ball and four by Ingram.
With Steven Adams out, Billy Hernangomez played well with 12 points and 12 rebounds while Jaxson Hayes came off the bench with 13 points and six rebounds. Eric Bledsoe chipped in with 16 points.
For a team that does not defend well at all, the Pelicans clamped down solidly down the stretch. You would hope they could do more of this more of the time.
The Pelicans, who have eight games left, will host Golden State Monday and Tuesday in back-to-back games at Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans still have a road game at Golden State on May 14 so you can say that New Orleans controls its own destiny, to a degree.
To get where the Pelicans want to get, they need to sweep the Warriors and hope Stephen Curry is not on fire.
- < PREV LSU holds off No. 1 Arkansas in nightcap to split Saturday doubleheader
- NEXT > Offensive woes doom Colonels as UIW secures doubleheader sweep
Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…