Panzura postgame wrap: Timberwolves 96, Pelicans 89
Turnovers were a major problem for New Orleans throughout Saturday’s game, but some briefly accurate first-half shooting helped make up for that. In the second half, that perimeter marksmanship almost completely went away, proving too much for the Pelicans to overcome.
Minnesota built an early double-digit lead before seeing New Orleans gradually erase all of that edge, but the Timberwolves regained their footing en route to a home victory. The clubs will face each other again Monday in the second game of a “baseball series” in Target Center.
New Orleans shot just 35 percent from the field and was 9/40 beyond the three-point arc (23 percent), with its starting guards cooling off Saturday to combine for a 3/23 night from distance.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Minnesota’s D’Angelo Russell banked in a three-pointer with 24 seconds left, giving the hosts a 94-87 lead. New Orleans had a chance to cut the margin to a point on the previous possession, but a corner three by Nickeil Alexander-Walker misfired.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Herbert Jones didn’t score Saturday until a late-fourth quarter layup, but nonetheless made a gigantic impact, providing a third-quarter boost that pushed New Orleans back into the hunt, after things looked bleak prior to intermission. With the Pelicans struggling to make shots, Jones’ offensive rebounding kept possessions alive, while on the other end he was disruptive and helped slow down the Timberwolves’ attack (only 15 third-quarter points).
Jones finished with two points, but contributed sticky defense, drew charges and kept possessions alive by tracking down six offensive rebounds (among his nine boards).
“Herb is a frickin’ tough kid,” Willie Green said. “He guards everybody we ask him to, he makes the right play. He’s gaining a lot of trust in that locker room with his teammates. It’s something we saw early in him. Now he’s getting a chance and taking advantage of his opportunity. Extremely proud of what he did tonight. We just need more of it from all of our guys. They’re fighting. We just have to get the turnover stuff in order.”
BY THE NUMBERS
30: New Orleans turnovers, tying a franchise record for the most in one game.
20: Brandon Ingram second-half points. His eight points in the third quarter helped New Orleans hold a 26-15 scoring edge, turning a 13-point halftime deficit into a one-possession margin.
4, 19: New Orleans free throws in the first half, then second half, for a total of 23 attempts. It took a lot for an offensive player to draw a whistle Saturday – unless it was the numerous charges called against out-of-control fast-breakers – but the Pelicans eventually got the line more as the night progressed.
For all 11 Saturday games for New Orleans this season, we’ll be holding a contest to pick which Pelicans player will most exceed his season scoring average that night. Pelicans radio sideline reporter Erin Summers took the 2021-22 lead by selecting Jonas Valanciunas, who easily cleared his previous scoring average (13.5 through two games) by depositing 20 points.
The other picks were: Daniel Sallerson (Naji Marshall); Jim Eichenhofer (Trey Murphy); and fans voted for Alexander-Walker from among four options on Twitter. Summers, Sallerson and Eichenhofer are not allowed to pick any Pelicans player more than once all season.