Naji Marshall #8 of the New Orleans Pelicans rebounds the ball at Sacramento last season.

Pelicans shootaround update: Naji Marshall looks forward to the 'vibe' in elimination game of In-Season Tournament

New Orleans visits Sacramento in quarterfinals at 9 p.m. Central

Naji Marshall is a major source of energy for New Orleans on and off the court, which is part of what makes Monday’s In-Season Tournament quarterfinal in Sacramento his kind of basketball. When asked after shootaround about the atmosphere in Golden 1 Center he expects for an elimination game, the fourth-year forward responded, “I’m looking forward to the energy. It’s my type of vibe.”

A national audience, including much of the rest of the NBA's teams and players, will tune in Monday for Day 1 of the knockout stage of the In-Season Tournament, which begins with a Boston-Indiana matchup in the Eastern Conference. At 9 p.m. Central, Sacramento (11-7, West Group C winner) will host New Orleans (11-10, West Group B winner), in a third meeting between the clubs since Nov. 20. The Pelicans swept the Kings in a “baseball series” prior to Thanksgiving in New Orleans.

“It’s going to be high-level basketball,” Marshall said. “We beat them two times at our crib; they got us at (their) crib (tonight) for the money (with a berth in the IST semifinals at stake). I know they’re going to come out with some energy, and ready to ball. We’ve just got to match that.”

“I think it will be fun,” Herb Jones said of Monday’s tournament game. “We’re still approaching it like every other game, the same intensity. We expect each other to bring it every night, no matter what’s on the line. But I think it’s going to be a super-fun environment to play in.”

Naji Marshall talks taking on Kings for third time, In-Season Tournament 12/4/2023

Other notes from shootaround:

For some NBA fans, this week may be the first time they’ve seen the 2023-24 Pelicans play. Asked how he’d describe his team to those who may be unfamiliar, Marshall responded, “Energetic, fun to watch, electric, downhill, transition. We kind of check off all of the boxes. We’ve got shooters, guys who get to the rim. We’ve got enforcers, defensive players, rebounders. It’s a fun team to watch.”

Jones on the Pelicans: “I think it’s somewhat similar to a college team, almost. In college, you (live) somewhat in the same area, if not in the same apartment complex. Everybody enjoys being around each other and that’s our team. Everyone enjoys showing up to hoop, feeding off each other. It’s super-fun being around a group that enjoys being around each other.” …

From an overarching standpoint, Monday marks a coveted chance for New Orleans to put some of its primary pieces on the floor at the same time, with Trey Murphy set to play in just his second game since returning from an offseason knee injury.

“Hopefully we can bring it in at the right time, make everything work at the right time,” Marshall said, referring partly to Murphy and CJ McCollum (lung) recently returning. “We’ve got all of the pieces. Let’s get everyone coming back and get more dangerous, more lethal, hit more threes, get more stops, run in transition. It’s a beautiful thing to see and it can be dangerous.”

Herb Jones talks playing in Knockout Rounds, taking on Kings again 12/4/2023

Sacramento Scouting Report

Offensive efficiency rank: 13 (114.2)

Defensive efficiency rank: 19 (114.4)

Net rating rank: 19 (-0.3)

Streak: Won 1

Go-to guy: Point guard De’Aaron Fox (30.3 ppg) is one of four NBA players averaging 30-plus points this season, trailing only Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic and Kevin Durant among the scoring leaders. The lightning-quick southpaw was held to a season-low 14 points and no assists by New Orleans in the Pelicans’ Nov. 20 rout, but Fox answered with 26 points two nights later in a much closer defeat.

On the rise: Like Fox, Kings third-leading scorer Malik Monk (14.4 ppg) was held in check during the two-game series in New Orleans, totaling just 18 points on 5/19 shooting, but he’s been hot since leaving the Crescent City. Over the ensuing four games, the instant-offense reserve guard has tallied 17, 21, 15 and 26 points, helping Sacramento beat Minnesota, Golden State and Denver during that span.  

Highlights: Best of Pelicans from 2023 In-Season Tournament Group Play

Previous Game Starting Lineups


Saturday loss at Chicago

Dyson Daniels, Herb Jones, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Jonas Valanciunas

Notes: The Pelicans are inching closer to full strength, but Larry Nance Jr. and Matt Ryan are listed as out for Monday’s game. McCollum and Murphy are back in uniform Monday after being DNPs due to rest Saturday. … Eight current Pelicans players have NBA playoff experience with New Orleans (from a 2022 first-round matchup vs. Phoenix), including Daniels, Jones, Ingram, Valanciunas, Nance, McCollum, Murphy and Marshall.


Saturday win vs. Denver

De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, Domantas Sabonis

Notes: The Kings are mostly healthy, but listed Chris Duarte as questionable on Sunday’s injury report, while Alex Len is out. … Ten current Kings players have NBA playoff experience with Sacramento (from a 2023 first-round matchup vs. Golden State), including Fox, Huerter, Murray, Barnes, Sabonis, Monk, Len, Davion Mitchell, Trey Lyles and Kessler Edwards.

FanDuel Keys to the Game

Can New Orleans carry over some of its recent playmaking prowess to the road? The Pelicans compiled a stellar 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio in their two November victories over the Kings (61 assists, 22 turnovers). Five of their last six games of 30-plus assists have come in the Smoothie King Center.
New Orleans and Sacramento rank similarly in rebounding this season (the Pelicans are 19th in rebounding percentage, two slots ahead of the Kings), but you wouldn’t have known that from watching the pair of November meetings in the Big Easy. New Orleans won boards by a double-digit margin both times, amassing a 103-74 advantage over Sacramento.
At forward, veterans Ingram (27.0 ppg) and Barnes (19.0) excelled in the two-game Crescent City series last month. Ingram delivered elite shooting splits against the Kings at 56/67/100. Barnes was efficient as well, particularly on threes and free throws, producing a 46/47/92 split.