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Matt Ryan shoots a jumper vs. Denver on Friday.

NBA In-Season Tournament postgame wrap: Pelicans 115, Nuggets 110

Pelicans (6-6, 2-1 West Group B), Nuggets (9-3, 2-1 West Group B)

At the morning shootaround, New Orleans sharpshooter Matt Ryan described the atmosphere of In-Season Tournament games as similar to the NBA playoffs. While the stakes weren’t quite as high as the postseason Friday, the Pelicans played with the intensity of a team hungry to punch a ticket to Las Vegas next month in the inaugural event. Facing the defending NBA champions – a Denver squad that entered Friday’s action boasting this season's best record – New Orleans built a 20-point lead in the second half and made enough plays in clutch time to prevail. The Pelicans essentially kept their In-Season Tournament hopes alive; a loss would’ve meant almost certain elimination. New Orleans used an 8-0 run to ice the victory in the final minutes, after the visitors had crept to within a possession of the lead.

WEST GROUP B STANDINGS

NEW ORLEANS 2-1, +23
Denver 2-1, +9
Houston 1-1, -3
Dallas 1-2, -14
LA Clippers 1-2, -15

REMAINING SCHEDULE

Tuesday: No games
Friday: Denver at Houston, 7 p.m.
Friday: NEW ORLEANS at LA Clippers, 9:30 p.m.
Nov. 28: Houston at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.

  • article-image: Brandon Ingram on what helped their offense get going | Pelicans vs Nuggets Postgame 11/17/23

    Brandon Ingram on what helped their offense get going | Pelicans vs Nuggets Postgame 11/17/23

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram speaks to the media following the team's In-Season Tournament win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday, November 17, 2023.

  • article-image: Zion Williamson on chemistry with Brandon Ingram, his mindset in game against Denver | Pelicans vs Nuggets Postgame 11/17/23

    Zion Williamson on chemistry with Brandon Ingram, his mindset in game against Denver | Pelicans vs Nuggets Postgame 11/17/23

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson speaks to the media following the team's In-Season Tournament win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday, November 17, 2023.

  • article-image: Dyson Daniels on Zion Williamson, increased confidence | Pelicans vs Nuggets Postgame 11/17/23

    Dyson Daniels on Zion Williamson, increased confidence | Pelicans vs Nuggets Postgame 11/17/23

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels speaks to the media following the team's In-Season Tournament win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday, November 17, 2023.

  • article-image: Willie Green recaps In-Season Tournament win over | Pelicans vs Nuggets Postgame 11/17/23

    Willie Green recaps In-Season Tournament win over | Pelicans vs Nuggets Postgame 11/17/23

    New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green speaks to the media following the team's In-Season Tournament win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday, November 17, 2023.

  • article-image: Pelicans Stat Leader Highlights: Zion Williamson with 26 Points vs. Denver Nuggets

    Pelicans Stat Leader Highlights: Zion Williamson with 26 Points vs. Denver Nuggets

    Pelicans Stat Leader Highlights: Zion Williamson with 26 Points vs. Denver Nuggets

  • article-image: Pelicans Stat Leader Highlights: Jonas Valanciunas with 22 Points vs. Denver Nuggets

    Pelicans Stat Leader Highlights: Jonas Valanciunas with 22 Points vs. Denver Nuggets

    Pelicans Stat Leader Highlights: Jonas Valanciunas with 22 Points vs. Denver Nuggets

  • article-image: NBA In-Season Tournament postgame wrap: Pelicans 115, Nuggets 110

    NBA In-Season Tournament postgame wrap: Pelicans 115, Nuggets 110

  • article-image: Photos: Pelicans vs Nuggets | Game Action 11/17/2023

    Photos: Pelicans vs Nuggets | Game Action 11/17/2023

    In‑Season Tournament game action between the New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center on November 17, 2023

THREE POINTS

Frontcourt comes through.
While Denver had two-time league MVP and 2023 Finals MVP Nikola Jokic at center and he put up a gaudy stat line of 26, 16 and 18 (the latter tying his career high in assists), New Orleans countered with stellar performances by its entire frontcourt Friday. Starters Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas each scored 20-plus points, and reserve forward Naji Marshall was red-hot from three-point range (12 points, 4/5 from deep), not normally his forte but a huge plus Friday.
Dyson Daniels progression.
The second-year guard from Australia has compiled a stellar week, checking a bunch of boxes and contributing at both ends of the floor. On Friday, the No. 8 overall pick from the 2022 draft began threatening a triple-double in the second half, posting 10 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals. New Orleans was plus-12 with him on the court for 33 minutes. The reconfigured starting lineup over the past two games has clicked in several stretches, with Daniels’ versatility factoring greatly into that success.
Tightened rotation.
There was some talk when the In-Season Tournament format was announced that NBA coaches might use fewer players or give extended minutes to starters for games that are a bit more important than a standard regular season contest. Willie Green did that to an extent Friday, only using eight players during the majority of the night. Every sub who saw significant action made an impact, including Ryan, Marshall and rookie Jordan Hawkins.

BY THE NUMBERS

12/22: New Orleans three-point shooting, highlighted by an outstanding 8/12 night by the bench. Denver shot just 10/40 from beyond the arc.
11: Pelicans turnovers, a very good (low) number. The hosts also dished out 32 assists for a nice ratio in that category. Ingram led with eight helpers, followed by Dyson Daniels with seven and Williamson’s six.
12: Denver attempts from the foul line. New Orleans did a good job of not fouling (only 13 personals), despite Jokic’s elite offensive prowess of scoring and finding teammates under the hoop.