Short-handed Pelicans score season high in dominant win over Kings
The odds were not with the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
The Pelicans had played the previous night and needed a maximum physical and emotional effort to rally past the Lakers in the fourth quarter to break a losing streak.
High scoring Sacramento, one of the best stories in the league and one of the biggest surprises in the league in the third spot in the Western Conference, was well rested, sitting in New Orleans Saturday night while the Pelicans were playing.
While the Kings were without DeAaron Fox, the Pelicans were without Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas and Dyson Daniels as Valanciunas missed his first game of the season.
New Orleans needed many players to step up and needed wholehearted contributions and got just that, sharing the ball, shared the wealth and got wealthy in a
convincing 136-104 win over the Kings at Smoothie King Center.
It was a wire-to-wire win and as good a performance as we have seen from the pelicans this season. It was thorough, dominant in every phase.
The 136 points are a season high for the Pelicans. It was the second largest win of the season for New Orleans.
All 11 players who were dressed scored for the Pelicans.
Sacramento, the highest scoring team in the NBA, was held 16 points below their season average, a testament to the outstanding defense of the Pelicans.
Trey Murphy led the way, scoring 30 points, just short of his career high of 32 points.
Most impressively, Murphy did it on just 11 field goal attempts, making nine, including 6 of 8 from three-point range. In the process, Murphy reached the 1,000 point mark for his young career in the third period.
The Pelicans led 34-26 after one quarter as Naji Marshall scored nine points and Willy Hernangomez had eight points off the bench.
Murphy and Kira Lewis stepped up in the second quarter to provide a huge boost as New Orleans built a 20-point lead and carried a 70-52 lead into halftime.
The 70 points are the third most in the first half this season for New Orleans.
The Pelicans shot 55 percent from the field and committed just three turnovers in the half while the Kings had nine turnovers and the Pelicans scored 15 points off those giveaways. New Orleans controlled the paint, outscoring Sacramento 40-28 inside.
New Orleans kept up the high level of play in the third quarter, going on a 9-0 run on 3-pointers (2) by Murphy and one by McCollum to open an 82-56 lead with 9:18 to play in the quarter.
The lead grew to 34 points at 96-62 before the Pelicans settled for a 104-76 lead going to the final quarter.
The 104 points through three quarters tied a season high for New Orleans.
The final quarter was an afterthought, with the outcome long since decided but it was not an afterthought for Willy Hernangomez.
Often relegated to watching and registering a huge number of games where he did not see the floor, Hernangomez is always ready when called upon, the consummate professional.
Hernangomez scored 22 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and had four assists.
McCollum was extremely efficient, scoring 24 points on 9 of 11 shooting from the field, including 3 of 4 from three-point range.
Marshall had 17 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Lewis finished with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Larry Nance Jr. had 10 points and nine rebounds and the Pelicans were a +37 with him on the floor.
Herb Jones scored just five points but New Orleans was +35 when he was on the floor.
The Pelicans shot 57 percent from the field and 54 percent from three-point range and won the boards by a 48-38 margin.
The back-to-back wins are the first time since the Pelicans have accomplished that since Dec. 30, which completed a five-game win streak.
The next night, Williamson got hurt in Memphis and New Orleans hit the skids.
Those skids have stopped and the Pelicans are looking more like the team we saw earlier this season.
The Pelicans owned the paint, outscoring Sacramento 66-44 in the lane.
The 136 points came just one night after the Pelicans scored 131 in the win over the Lakers Saturday evening.
Back above .500 at 28-27, the Pelicans moved into a tie for eighth in the Western Conference with Golden State.
The homestand continues Tuesday night as the Pelicans host Atlanta, another team at .500 on the season. Ingram will be back. Valanciunas is day-to-day. We will find out about Williamson this week.
What was a bleak picture just a couple of days ago is much brighter now.
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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…