Postgame wrap: Pelicans 125, Bulls 119
CHICAGO – In eight days Chicago will host the Rising Stars game at All-Star weekend, but New Orleans showcased a few of its promising young players in advance Thursday, with 19-year-old rookies Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes contributing production and highlight-reel plays. Combined with one of the Pelicans’ most balanced offensive efforts of the season, New Orleans rolled for much of the night in the Windy City. Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram was one of the numerous Pelicans who cracked double digits in scoring with 15 points, but 10 days before he’s scheduled to play in his first All-Star Game in the same United Center, he left the game with a right ankle sprain.
“Tonight I thought was one of our more complete games (of the season),” fifth-year head coach Alvin Gentry said of the Pelicans. “You’ve got to take away the final four and a half minutes (when Chicago’s deep reserves cut into a huge deficit) of the game, but I thought we did everything necessary to secure the win.”
There was no immediate update following Thursday's game on Ingram's ankle, with further information expected Friday.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
New Orleans rapidly turned a 10-point halftime lead into a huge edge with an extended third-quarter surge. The Pelicans repeatedly dumped the ball inside to Williamson in the low post and the rookie got to the basket or the foul line. The visitors were up by 27 just 7.5 minutes into the third period. With backups on the floor, Chicago actually somehow got back within four points of the lead in the final seconds, but after a Hayes missed free throw, Nicolo Melli tipped in the rebound to account for the final margin.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Williamson shot 12/13 in a preseason game at Chicago and nearly matched that absurd efficiency Thursday, going 9/11 from the floor en route to a 21-point night. For the seventh time in the eight games he’s played since making his NBA debut Jan. 22, the Pelicans outscored their opponent when the No. 1 overall draft pick was on the floor, this time by 11 points. He logged 25 minutes before sitting the final seven minutes, with the Pelicans in control.
BY THE NUMBERS
10: Pelicans players who scored at least eight points.
38: Season-high assists for New Orleans.
56.3: New Orleans shooting percentage from the field, also a season high.
For all eight Thursday games throughout New Orleans’ regular season, we’ll be selecting a Pelicans player we think will most exceed his season average in made three-pointers that night. Daniel Sallerson selected Lonzo Ball, while Jim Eichenhofer picked Nicolo Melli. In a fan poll among four other candidates, Brandon Ingram was chosen. The winner of the fourth contest was Eichenhofer, after Melli doubled his season average of 1.0 by sinking a pair of treys. As a result, the season standings are now Jim 3, Daniel 2, Fans 1. Sallerson and Eichenhofer cannot repeat a player among any of the first four Thursday games, nor the second four Thursday games.
Oct. 31 vs. Denver, Jim – Jrue Holiday (Daniel pick: JJ Redick; Fans: Lonzo Ball)
Nov. 14 vs. LA Clippers, Daniel – Frank Jackson (Jim: JJ Redick; Fans: Nickeil Alexander-Walker)
Nov. 21 at Phoenix, Jim – E’Twaun Moore (Daniel: Nicolo Melli; Fans: Brandon Ingram)
Dec. 5 vs. Phoenix, Fans – Lonzo Ball (Daniel: Jrue Holiday; Jim: Josh Hart)
Jan. 16 vs. Utah, Daniel – E’Twaun Moore (Jim: Lonzo Ball; Fans: Brandon Ingram)