Trey Murphy #25 of the New Orleans Pelicans leaps in the air to pass the ball by Sasha Vezenkov #7 and Alex Len #25 of the Sacramento Kings on April 11.

Pelicans compiled rampant team, individual success vs. Kings in 2023-24

New Orleans hosts Sacramento on Friday, with winner advancing to playoffs and series vs. Oklahoma City

New Orleans’ leading scorer and two-time All-Star will be sidelined by a hamstring injury in Friday’s play-in elimination game vs. Sacramento (8:30 p.m., TNT, WRNO 99.5 FM, KGLA 105.7 FM), a significant loss that puts the Pelicans in a position where they must keep their season alive without a defense-altering weapon. But that’s familiar territory for New Orleans (49-33), which reached the Western Conference playoffs most recently in 2021-22 when Zion Williamson missed the entire season. The 23-year-old power forward may have the most talent and highest ceiling of anyone on the team’s roster, but the Pelicans have won numerous games while shorthanded in recent years, including beating the Kings five consecutive times in 2023-24, despite having their primary starting lineup intact in only one meeting.

Second-year guard Dyson Daniels started both November victories over Sacramento – New Orleans won those by an average of 20.5 points – while forward Trey Murphy started the latter two wins in Golden 1 Center (average margin: 22.5 points). Virtually across the board, Pelicans players put up excellent statistics against the Kings over the handful of matchups that stretched from mid-November through exactly one week ago – perhaps no surprise given the 5-0 head-to-head record and total margin of plus-96 (19.2 average). Some of the highlights:

CJ McCollum: The 11-year NBA veteran noted in a Jan. 7 postgame TV interview at Sacramento that he still thinks about how the Kings told him they’d draft him in 2013, only to select another player. McCollum has put up preposterous numbers vs. Sacramento in three appearances, including 60 percent shooting from the field and 70 percent on threes (19/27), while averaging 26.0 ppg.
Herb Jones: The third-year wing registered eight games of 18-plus points during the regular season. Two of those were vs. Sacramento, including his season high of 23 in the Dec. 4 In-Season Tournament quarterfinal.
Brandon Ingram: The eighth-year forward will be playing in only his third game back from a knee injury on Friday. He was better than a 50/40/90 shooter vs. Sacramento in four outings this season, at 53/56/90.
Trey Murphy: A week ago on April 11, the third-year forward drained six three-pointers and rang up 27 points at Sacramento. In three matchups vs. the Kings, he shot 50/46/80 (to the chagrin of Mama Murphy, he missed two of 10 free throws).
Jonas Valanciunas: The center logged 134 total minutes vs. Sacramento and traditional big Domantas Sabonis, Valanciunas’ most against any opponent this season (next was 116 vs. Memphis). He put up a double-double at 14.2 ppg and 11.4 rpg (also averaged 14+ and 11+ against Chicago, Houston and Memphis).

Jose Alvarado: Point guard had five steals and two blocks over four meetings with the Kings. Was plus-53 in just 73 minutes.
Dyson Daniels: New Orleans went 8-8 in his 16 games as a starter, but 2-0 vs. Sacramento.
Naji Marshall: Among his 20 games of double-digit scoring this season, three were against the Kings. He shot 58/40/89 in modest volume (14/24 from the field).
Larry Nance Jr.: Only faced Sacramento twice, but had 11 rebounds in only 27 minutes.