Pelicans top Kings, clinch first West spot in NBA In-Season Tournament semis
Dec 4, 2023, 10:48 PM | Updated: Dec 5, 2023, 8:15 am
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The New Orleans Pelicans weathered away a slow start, beating the Sacramento Kings 127-117 on the road, punching their ticket to Las Vegas. They’ll play the winner of Tuesday’s Suns-Lakers matchup.
Sacramento opened the game with a 32-17 lead after less than eight minutes, looking poised to take control. New Orleans, however, responded with an 18-4 run to end the first, taking their first lead early in the second quarter.
Kings forward Trey Lyles committed a technical foul midway through the second, pushing Pelicans center Jonas Valančiūnas in the back of the head, cementing what would become a 34-25 second quarter in favor of New Orleans.
The Pelicans maintained their lead the rest of the way as all three other quarters were only within one point either way.
Brandon Ingram, who torched the Suns in the 2022 Western Conference First Round that Phoenix won in six games, led the way for New Orleans with 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting and 3-for-6 from deep in 40 minutes.
All five Pelicans starters scored in double-digits along with 16 points off the bench from Trey Murphy. However, Zion Williamson scored just 10 points in 28 minutes, giving New Orleans another level to go up in the future.
Pelicans utilized an eight-man rotation while Sacramento gave just seven players a meaningful allocation of minutes, giving the quarterfinal a true playoff feel.
De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis led the way for the Kings as they have all year, scoring 30 and 26 points respectively. The latter finished with a triple-double, adding 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Pelicans win sets up a trend the Suns will want to follow of the road team coming up victorious in the quarterfinal, which is the lone round played on home courts.