With the New Orleans Pelicans playing without their top two scorers in the home preseason opener Wednesday, they needed someone to step in and fill the scoring void. Enter Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The third-year guard poured in 19 points in the first half as the Pelicans defeated the Orlando Magic 104-86 at the Smoothie King Center.
Alexander-Walker had five assists, two rebounds and two assists to go along with his 19 points, which was helped by 5 of 9 shooting from 3-point range.
And while the Pelicans (1-1 in preseason) had to play without star forwards Zion Williamson (right foot surgery) and Brandon Ingram (right knee contusion) they did get new center Jonas Valanciunas on the court for the first time in preseason. He scored 13 points and had nine rebounds before being ejected with 5:36 to play in the third quarter for arguing a call. It was his second technical of the game.
First-round draft pick Trey Murphy had a nice performance, making six 3s in a 20-point outing, doing most his damage in the second half against Orlando's reserves.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Alexander-Walker. The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder out of Virginia Tech got the start and brough the energy and sharp shooting, especially in the second quarter when the Pelicans played their way back into the game.
BY THE NUMBERS
51.4: The Pelicans' 3-point shooting percentage.
28: Number of Pelicans assists
WHO STARTED: Alexander-Walker, Naji Marshall, Valanciunas, Garrett Temple and Devonte' Graham.
WHO DIDN'T PLAY: In addition to Williamson and Ingram, center Jaxson Hayes (left ankle sprain) did not play.