New Orleans sharpshooter Matt Ryan compared the vibe of In-Season Tournament games to the NBA playoffs during the morning shootaround. Although the stakes were not as high as the postseason, the Pelicans played with the focus of a team eager to qualify for the tournament next month in Las Vegas. Against the Denver Nuggets, who entered Friday’s game with the best record this season, New Orleans established a 20-point lead in the second half and delivered under pressure to secure the win. Essentially keeping their In-Season Tournament aspirations alive, the Pelicans managed to stave off elimination with this victory. A loss would have likely spelled the end for their tournament hopes. A late 8-0 run sealed the win in the final minutes after the Nuggets had closed to within a single possession of the lead.
New Orleans Stat Leader Highlights:
– Zion Williamson: 26 Points
– Jonas Valanciunas: 22 Points
In-Season Tournament Standings:
– New Orleans 2-1, +23
– Denver 2-1, +9
– Houston 1-1, -3
– Dallas 1-2, -14
– LA Clippers 1-2, -15
Coming out of the game, notable players from the New Orleans Pelicans, including Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Dyson Daniels, and head coach Willie Green, shared insights with the media, reflecting on their win over the Denver Nuggets. They discussed their increased confidence, developing chemistry, and the team’s offensive performance. Photos from the game and a postgame locker room celebration were also captured and shared.
– Frontcourt Dominance: Though Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets’ center, posted impressive numbers, the Pelicans’ frontcourt, including Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Jonas Valanciunas, shined, each scoring over 20 points.
– Dyson Daniels Growth: Second-year guard Dyson Daniels has been showing substantial progress and versatility on the court, coming close to a triple-double in the game with a standout performance on both ends of the floor.
– Streamlined Rotation: New Orleans head coach Willie Green opted for a tighter rotation, using only eight players for the majority of the game.
Key Game Stats:
– New Orleans’ effective three-point shooting, notably from the bench, which resulted in an 8/12 performance, compared to Denver’s 10/40 shooting from beyond the arc.
– Low turnovers for the Pelicans, with only 11 throughout the game, and an impressive 32 team assists. The distribution of playmaking saw Ingram, Daniels, and Williamson leading with significant contributions.
– A noteworthy stat in terms of Denver’s free throw attempts, with New Orleans successfully minimizing fouls against Jokic, who is known for his scoring and playmaking abilities.
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