Postgame wrap: Clippers 129, Pelicans 126

Clippers (16-7), Pelicans (12-13)
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

New Orleans rallied all the way back from an 18-point deficit Monday to take a modest fourth-quarter lead, but Los Angeles answered in the final minutes, holding on for a narrow road victory in the Smoothie King Center. Despite two Pelicans surpassing the 30-point mark – Julius Randle notched 37, while Jrue Holiday posted 32 – the hosts lost for just the third time at home this season. The Clippers put five players in double-figure scoring, including three with 20-plus points, to outlast the Pelicans on a night filled with offensive fireworks.

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

E’Twaun Moore’s leaning three-point shot at the buzzer from the left wing came up just short, bounding off the rim to the Clippers just before time expired. A couple possessions earlier, Clippers guard Lou Williams connected on an immense deep two-point shot with 6.4 ticks left, making it a three-point margin.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Randle enjoyed the best offensive game of his NBA career, setting a new professional high by the end of the third quarter with 37 points (his previous top game was 36 points for the Lakers vs. Cleveland in March of last season). Unfortunately for Randle, foul trouble plagued him and he ended up being whistled for his sixth with four-plus minutes remaining in regulation, after he tried to grab a rebound away from the Clippers.

FOCUS ON: DEFENSE

The remedy to some of New Orleans’ inconsistency over the first month-plus of the regular season is quite straightforward: Improving when the Pelicans don’t have the ball. For a third time this season Monday, New Orleans lost a game despite scoring 120-plus points, including a Thanksgiving Eve defeat in Philadelphia. The Clippers shot a way-too-high 59 percent from the field, after hovering around 65 percent well into their road win in the Crescent City. Los Angeles deposited 77 points in the opening half, before New Orleans clamped down and allowed only 52 points in the final 24 minutes. “I thought the guys came out in the second half and competed like crazy,” Alvin Gentry said. “Whenever (the Clippers) tried to knock us out of the box, we hung in and came back.” New Orleans improved dramatically last season after the All-Star break at the defensive end, a big factor in a 20-8 close to the regular season and first-round sweep vs. Portland. The Pelicans need to get back to that level of stinginess defensively to start stringing together more wins and gaining momentum in a West which has 14 competitive teams that currently believe they can make the eight-team playoff field.

BY THE NUMBERS

41/63: Clippers shooting from two-point range. The visitors were 31/49 in the paint, while the Pelicans finished with virtually identical numbers, at 32/49.

32: New Orleans assists, led by 14 from Jrue Holiday. It was the first time this season that the Pelicans dished out 30-plus assists and lost the game.

7: Pelicans turnovers, the fewest for New Orleans in any game this season.

Pelicans vs. Clippers Postgame: Head Coach Alvin Gentry 12-3-18

Head Coach Alvin Gentry speaks to the media following the Pelicans' tough loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Game 25: Pelicans vs. Clippers 12/3/18

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Pelicans vs. Clippers Postgame: Head Coach Alvin Gentry 12-3-18

Head Coach Alvin Gentry speaks to the media following the Pelicans' tough loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Dec 3, 2018  |  03:05

Pelicans Postgame: Julius Randle 12-3-18

Julius Randle talks about his career night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Dec 3, 2018  |  01:43

Pelicans Postgame: Jrue Holiday 12-3-18

Jrue Holiday talks about the Pelicans' close loss to the best team in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Dec 3, 2018  |  01:11

Julius Randle (37 points) Highlights vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Check out highlights from Julius Randle's career-high, 37-point performance against the Clippers.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:00

Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle Top Plays vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Check out highlights from Julius Randle's career-high, 37-point performance and a 32-point outing from Jrue Holiday.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:00

Jrue Holiday with 14 Assists vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Pelicans Jrue Holiday dished out 14 dimes at home against the LA Clippers.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:00

Anthony Davis guides it home

Pelicans Anthony Davis guides home a pass from Jrue Holiday.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:20

Jrue Holiday blocks and buckets

Pelicans Jrue Holiday gets up to block Marcin Gortat and runs the floor to capitalize on the layup.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:23

Anthony Davis with the help defense

Pelicans Anthony Davis turns up the defense with the big block.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:19

Julius Randle hammers it home

Pelicans Julius Randle capitalizes off the hustle play and hammers home the slam.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:28

Anthony Davis steal and finish

Pelicans Anthony Davis picks off the pass and finishes with finesse on the other end.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:12

Wesley Johnson blocks it into the crowd

Pelicans Wesley Johnson tracks the defender and blocks the shot into the crowd.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:11

Randle flies in for the one-handed slam

Pelicans Julius Randle cuts down the lane for the one-handed dunk against the Clippers.
Dec 3, 2018  |  00:11