Zion-less New Orleans wasn’t too big of a problem for the LA Clippers, who routinely won the last night’s clash, 111-106.
Apart from Williamson, the Pelicans lacked two starters as well, Lonzo Ball (knee tendinopathy) and Eric Bledsoe (eye irritation). Their head coach, Stan Van Gundy, was also ruled out, for the same reason as Williamson – inconclusive test results.
This made it much easier for the home team, who was a favorite to win the match even with the Pelicans complete. The game was close in the first period, with the same ending 28-28, but midway through the second sequence, the hosts began pounding.
Clips scored 13 straight points to pull away to 53-39, and from that moment on, they never looked back. Though it wasn’t easy for Tyronn Lue’s side as they allowed the Pelicans to cut the gap to 89-85 early in the last quarter.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were the ones who stepped up, delivering 16 points from that moment on.
“It just comes down to us putting the game away when we need to,” George, who had 27 points, said. “We’re really good in the first and second quarters. In the third and fourth is where we need to clean up and buckle down. That’s going to come.”
PG added six rebounds and assists in 38 minutes on the floor while shooting threes five for nine. Kawhi Leonard scored one point more, with the Claw assisting his teammates nine times and grabbing six boards.
Serge Ibaka dropped 12 buckets and Patrick Beverly 10. What isn’t good news is that Lou Williams played just nine minutes before leaving the game at halftime due to hip problems. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year made only one basket for two points during his stay on the court.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker exploded for the Pelicans, with the young Canadian delivering a career-high 37 points and 8 boards, with an excellent shooting percentage, 15-for-23.
“Early on, I tried to let it come to me,” Alexander-Walker said. “As the flow of the game went on, I was just kind of riding its wave and figuring out where to assert myself.”
He was the sole reason why the Pelicans came back in the fourth and had a chance to endanger the rivals. Brandon Ingram was good support with 22 points and six boards, while JJ Redick and Steven Adams had 12 points each. Kira Lewis Jr. had 10 points.
“We just don’t close enough. We’ll work on it…I have no doubts at some point this year we’ll get better, but it’s killing us right now,” Stan Van Gundy explained.
Even though the Pelicans controlled the glass and had more rebounds than the hosts, 48-36, they couldn’t capitalize on that, mostly due to LAC’s very good downtown shooting, 18-for-37. New Orleans was extremely dominant in the paint, scoring more twice as many points than their counterparts, 52-20
What was also a difference-maker were the free throws, with the Pelicans having just 16, hitting 12, while on the other side, the Clips were 23-for-27.
Van Gundy’s team has five more matches on the road, the next one against the Lakers also in LA, and after that against the Kings, Jazz (back-to-back), and Timberwolves in the end.
The Clippers travel to Sacramento for a clash vs. Kings on Friday, and after that, bounce back home for a four-game homestand, during which they face the Pacers, Kings, and Thunder twice in a row.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.