Panzura postgame wrap: Pelicans 117, Kings 110
Stan Van Gundy spent part of Sunday’s postgame press conference in Cleveland discussing the need for New Orleans and its two recent All-Star forwards to bring more intensity and focus on defense. In Monday’s win over Sacramento, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram did their usual major damage scoring-wise, but the Pelicans also delivered at the other end of the floor, particularly in the opening 24 minutes.
New Orleans held Sacramento to just 45 first-half points and built a 26-point lead, then withstood a Kings rally in the second half. It was the Pelicans’ third straight triumph, as they continue to gain ground on teams just ahead of them in the Western Conference standings. Williamson and Ingram combined to score 64 points, with each producing at least 30.
The victory gave New Orleans a three-game lead over 12th-place Sacramento, essentially a four-game edge now that the Pelicans clinched the tiebreaker by virtue of a 2-1 season-series win.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Sacramento clawed back to within 114-110 at 0:18 following Harrison Barnes’ three made free throws, but De’Aaron Fox’s subsequent three-point attempt rimmed out, giving Wes Iwundu foul shots at 0:11. He split the pair, then grabbed a clinching defensive rebound after another Kings missed trey.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
In his third game back from injury, Ingram set the tone for New Orleans in the opening few minutes by scoring all of the hosts’ early points. He finished with 34, his best night since he dropped in 36 against the Lakers on March 23. The Pelicans are 9-3 in the last 12 games in which both Ingram and Williamson play.
“I love playing with Brandon,” Williamson said on postgame radio, when asked about the two forwards totaling 64 points. “He’s a great player. I think we complement each other very well. When it’s time to win, we both know what we’ve got to do.”
BY THE NUMBERS
10: Third-quarter turnovers by New Orleans, a key in Sacramento holding a 29-18 scoring edge in that period.
2: Times the Pelicans have swept a back-to-back this season. The previous instance was Feb. 5-6 in games at Indiana and vs. Houston.
8: New Orleans games in the last 12 days. "That's a grueling schedule," Van Gundy said of the stretch. "I think that showed in the second half also (with New Orleans dropping off in performance, allowing Sacramento to rally)."
REVISITING THREE KEYS TO VICTORY PRESENTED BY FANDUEL
DEFENSE ON DE’AARON
The best thing you can say about New Orleans vs. De’Aaron Fox this season is that the Pelicans won two of the three games. Sacramento’s point guard was phenomenal again facing the Crescent City. After scoring 43 and 38 points in the first two games vs. New Orleans, the Kentucky product had 43 again Monday. His career high is 44.
In the second game of a back-to-back, the Pelicans brought plenty of energy, one of the hallmarks of rookie Naji Marshall’s game. In a surprise, Marshall came off the bench Monday, with Wes Iwundu moving into the starting five.
Sacramento center Richaun Holmes’ impact was minimized by him exiting the game with an injury after logging just 16 minutes. New Orleans dominated the rebounding battle 51-34 and won points in the paint 60-50, which actually was a smaller margin than normal for the Pelicans lately.