Pelicans sink free throws late to hold off Kings
When your offense and rebounding are good, you can get by without playing very good defense against a less than stellar opponent.
The former two elements were excellent for the New Orleans Pelicans and it was enough Sunday night to hold off the Kings 128-123 at Sacramento to snap a 5-game losing streak.
The Pelicans, who average over 16 turnovers per game, limited their giveaways to just 13 on this night.
New Orleans came out shooting well to take a 34-25 after one quarter and built a 67-58 lead at halftime. The 67 points were a season high in the first half.
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram combined for 33 points in the first half as Williamson scored 18 and Ingram had 15 points. The Pelicans dominated the boards with a 23-10 bulge. New Orleans shot 61.9 percent from the field (26-of-42) in the half.
New Orleans had issues with turnovers, committing seven in the second quarter after having just two in the opening quarter. Sacramento shot the ball well, to the tune of 54.5 percent in the half.
The Pelicans built a 93-76 lead in the third quarter but the Kings went on an 18-4 run as New Orleans went cold and Sacramento cut the deficit to 97-94 going to the fourth quarter.
Steven Adams, who was under 50 percent from the free throw line on the season, calmly drained four straight free throws in the final minutes. Adams came up big with 12 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.
According to @TalentStats, Adams became just the seventh Pelican to record at least seven offensive rebounds, seven defensive rebounds and four assists in a game and New Orleans is 7-0 in such games.
Williamson finished with 31 points, one off of his season high. Williamson went 13-of-15 from the field. His 86.7 percent shooting is the highest ever for a Pelican when taking 15+ shots. Williamson added six rebounds and two assists.
New Orleans made 15-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter, nearly half of their points in the quarter. They made 11 of their last 12 which provided the margin of victory.
JJ Redick knocked down two free throws with 10.6 seconds left while Nickeil Alexander-Walker made two more free throws with 5.6 seconds left to put the game away.
For the game, New Orleans made 27-of-34 free throws. New Orleans finished the game shooting 52.9 percent from the field and crushed Sacramento 48-33 on the board.
Redick had a good game off the bench, scoring 14 points, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
Eric Bledsoe returned to the starting lineup and had perhaps his best game of the season. Bledsoe had 21 points, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range and pulled down six rebounds.
Jaxson Hayes was excellent off the bench with a season high 11 points, along with six rebounds in 16 minutes.
Kira Lewis showed the ability to dribble penetrate and to kick out to open shooters as he had five assists in 12 minutes.
Alexander-Walker had nine points to go with five rebounds and five assists.
Ingram finished with 22 points but he committed five turnovers.
De’Aaron Fox scored a career high 43 points as he was unstoppable in keeping the Kings in the game. Fox also had 13 assists, four rebounds and four steals.
Sacramento lost despite shooting 51.6 percent from the field.
It was the first win for New Orleans since Jan. 2.
Next up on the road trip is Utah in the first of two straight games against the Jazz on their home floor in a scheduling quirk.
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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…