Sacramento Kings vs New Orleans Pelicans Live Scores & Stats – April 19, 2024 GameTracker – Sports

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Hustle plays and production from up and down the lineup helped the New Orleans Pelicans overcome the absence of leading scorer Zion Williamson, keep their season alive and avoid a historically significant loss.

Brandon Ingram scored 24 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 19 points and 12 rebounds and the New Orleans Pelicans booked a spot in the NBA playoffs with a 105-98 win over the Sacramento Kings in a play-in tournament elimination game Friday night.

“We stayed together. We supported each other. We played for each other,” Valanciunas said. “We all want to go to the playoffs And we did that by playing good basketball, supporting each other, helping each other on defense, on offense, sharing the ball, you know, making a proper play that's fun basketball to play.”

Williamson was sidelined with a left hamstring strain after hitting 40 points in a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Quietly, New Orleans used a balanced approach to improve to 8-5 this season without Williamson. Six players scored 10 or more points, including reserves Larry Nance Jr. (13), Naji Marshall (11) and Jose Alvarado (10).

“You get 34 points off your bench, it's a great night for them, a tough night for us,” Kings coach Mike Brown said.

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Trey Murphy III, starting in Williamson's absence, added 16 points for New Orleans, which opens a first-round playoff series Sunday at top-seeded Oklahoma City.

“Feels good. It was a goal early in the year,” Ingram said of clinching a playoff berth. “Today we had another chance and we came and everyone contributed.”

De'Aaron Fox scored 35 points, and Domantas Sabonis had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the ninth-seeded Kings, who defeated No. 10 seed Golden State in their playoff opener to set up their matchup with New Orleans.

“We were a little inactive offensively and we weren't all aggressive in our game tonight,” said Brown, citing a combined 4-for-17 shooting from young starters Keegan Murray (4 for 12) and Keon Ellis (0 for 5). indicating )

“We've got to be able to get the ball in the paint,” added Brown, whose team was outscored 58-44 inside and missed seven of 22 free throws. “You have to be able to finish and you have to get to the free throw line and convert.”

The game was a test of the Pelicans' ability to handle the pressure of a do-or-die game after squandering two previous chances to lock up a playoff berth at home.

New Orleans lost to the Lakers in their regular-season finale on Sunday, missing a chance to clinch the sixth seed before losing to the Lakers again on Tuesday. They entered their matchup with the Kings facing the prospect of becoming the first 49-win team in more than 50 years (Phoenix in 1972) to miss the NBA playoffs.

Instead, New Orleans improved to 6-0 against Sacramento this season, becoming the first team to go 6-0 against an opponent (without a playoff series) since Denver against Minnesota in 1994-95.

“We deserve it. That's how we felt coming into this game,” Nance said. “We deserve to be in the playoffs. You don't win 49 games by accident.”

The Pelicans also extended a streak of the No. 7 seed since the play-in tournament was adopted by the NBA in 2020. Never missed the playoffs Due to their playoff loss to the Lakers, the Pelicans entered the playoffs as the eighth seed.

The Pelicans were sloppy early, committing six first-quarter turnovers that led to 11 Kings points. Sacramento, which was missing Malik Monk (right knee) and Kevin Huerter (left shoulder) from its lineup, led 24-17 on a layup by Fox after a turnover by Herb Jones, who scored 18 points in the first half.

C.J. McCollum's reverse layup and Murphy's 3 helped the Pelicans quickly close the gap and New Orleans built a 13-point lead in the second quarter.

Marshall gave the Pelicans a jolt with a 3 and a steal from Murray that he converted into a breakaway dunk. He fell and injured his hip while losing the ball. He went to the locker room shortly after, but returned for the second half.

Valanciunas' short hook shot and Ingram's layup put the Pelicans up 53-40 at the half before Fox's 3 helped trim the Kings to 54-45 at halftime.

But the Pelicans maintained a lead of 10 or more points for most of the second half, growing to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter.

AP NBA:

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