Panzura postgame wrap: Pelicans 101, 76ers 94
One Philadelphia All-Star managed just 10 points. The other shot 5/16 from the field. Meanwhile, New Orleans’ All-Star representative muscled and soared his way to his best all-around night as a pro.
A month after appearing in the midseason classic for the first time, Zion Williamson dominated to the tune of 37 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. He came within two assists of his first NBA triple-double, tying his career mark by handing out eight dimes.
The Pelicans rode one of their best defensive performances of 2020-21 to one of their best victories, pulling away from the 76ers in the second half by clamping down on Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and their supporting cast.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Williamson pulled up for a textbook mid-range baseline jumper, giving New Orleans a 98-87 lead with two-plus minutes remaining. Philadelphia scored the next five points, but then made a critical turnover off a bad pass out of bounds at 1:19.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Williamson was “Point Zion” more frequently Friday than in perhaps any other game this season, directing the offense from the top of the key, setting up drives for himself in which he got all the way to the basket, or dishing to open teammates. By his standards it was an average shooting night at 15/28, after he struggled out of the gate in that area, but he still had 17 points by halftime. Williamson mustered 14 fourth-quarter points, as New Orleans kept Philadelphia at arm’s length.
BY THE NUMBERS
4/22: New Orleans three-point shooting. It didn’t matter much, because the Pelicans allowed their third-fewest points in a game this season.
56-37: Pelicans rebounding advantage. New Orleans entered Friday as the NBA’s top rebounding team, while third-place Philadelphia was also elite.
2: Games behind San Antonio in the Western Conference standings for New Orleans, after the Spurs lost narrowly at Denver late Friday. Although most Pelicans scoreboard-watching lately has understandably focused on Golden State, San Antonio’s recent losing streak has brought New Orleans much closer lately to the Southwest Division rival. The Spurs visit the Smoothie King Center on April 24.
REVISITING THREE KEYS TO VICTORY PRESENTED BY FANDUEL
PROTECT THE PAINT
New Orleans was aggressive on its way to a big edge in points in the paint, throwing down five dunks in the first quarter alone. The Pelicans won that stat 66-34 and frustrated Embiid to the point where Embiid went back on the court postgame to take more shots.
GUARD THE ARC
After the way a three-game road trip ended this week, it was a welcome sight to see the opposition struggle from three-point range for a long stretch. Philadelphia ended up at a decent 11/31 (36 percent), but made a few late after the hosts took command.
Lonzo Ball didn’t have the opportunity to “bounce back” Friday, ruled out due to a hip injury, this time on his left side instead of his right. Isaiah Thomas was also denied that chance as a DNP, due to rookie backup PG Kira Lewis Jr. returning from injury. Eric Bledsoe and Lewis shot 4/13 from the field, but that wasn’t a big factor due to NOLA’s interior dominance. Naji Marshall was a bit of a surprise starter at shooting guard.