Panzura postgame wrap: Pelicans 123, Clippers 104
NBA fans scanning the league’s three-point leaders Monday morning probably did a double-take when they saw Jonas Valanciunas’ name near the top of the list. The crowd at Staples Center might have reacted similarly Monday night, when the burly center went an absurd 7/7 from beyond the arc in the first half, racking up 29 points.
In the best offensive game of his 10-year NBA career, Valanciunas put on a show shooting-wise, setting a career high by pouring in a total of 39 points. His prolific opening half staked New Orleans to a 15-point lead, which the Pelicans rode to a quality win, capping a stellar 2-1 road trip vs. Western Conference foes.
Valanciunas had never made more than five threes in a game, but already knocked down seven by the midway point of Monday’s second quarter.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
New Orleans missed a three-pointer from the right wing, but grabbed the offensive rebound, leading to a Brandon Ingram and-one. Not only did the Pelicans extend their lead to 112-95, but they burned more valuable time off the clock from the Clippers.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Take a guess. Valanciunas was phenomenal, with his 39 points coming on 15/24 shooting overall, including 7/8 accuracy from long distance. He also grabbed 15 rebounds. His seven treys in a half tied a franchise record.
Ingram joked that Valanciunas was extra determined to show off his three-point range, after he had a rare 0-for Saturday against the Jazz from distance. "I think he was disappointed he didn't hit any threes at Utah,” Ingram said, “so he came out and hit about 10 tonight. That's what it felt like."
BY THE NUMBERS
4: Place among all NBA players in three-point percentage for Valanciunas entering Monday’s game. By connecting on his first seven trey attempts, he bumped his season percentage from 46 to 53 during Monday’s first half, going from 23/50 to 30/57.
1-9: New Orleans record in its first 10 road games this season, prior to going 2-1 over the past four days.
3-1: New Orleans record since Willie Green moved to the current starting lineup, featuring Josh Hart and Herbert Jones, in addition to Valanciunas, Ingram and Devonte' Graham.
REVISITING FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME
MORE LOCKDOWN DEFENSE
LA only had a few stretches of getting on a roll offensively, after the Clippers only tallied 81 points 10 days ago at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans also benefited Monday from some sloppiness by the Clippers, who had some odd turnovers while simply trying to advance the ball near the sidelines.
New Orleans again held a major upper hand on the boards vs. the Clippers, this time winning the category 47-35.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
LA’s starting backcourt of Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe had a brutal shooting night Nov. 19 in the Crescent City, but combined Monday to go 11/20 from the field. With Valanciunas and Ingram excelling offensively, New Orleans did not need a big outing from its guards in Staples Center.
It took a game-winning bucket to unseat Jonas Valanciunas from his four-week run as the team’s Player of the Week, as voted by fans on Twitter. Devonte’ Graham only played in three of the four Week 6 games for New Orleans, but he delivered the best highlight so far of 2021-22 when he drilled the deciding three-pointer at Utah on Friday. Graham earned 49 percent of votes, followed by Willy Hernangomez’s 32 percent. Previous weekly winners were Week 1: Brandon Ingram; Week 2: Jonas Valanciunas; Week 3: Jonas Valanciunas; Week 4: Jonas Valanciunas; Week 5: Jonas Valanciunas