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Jonas Valanciunas guides Pelicans over Pistons

Jan 13, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Detroit Pistons guard Nerlens Noel (9) passes defended by New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first half at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Jonas Valanciunas powered for 33 points and 16 rebounds and the visiting New Orleans Pelicans held off the Detroit Pistons 116-110 on Friday night.

CJ McCollum supplied 19 points and nine assists and Trey Murphy III also had 19 points for the Pelicans, who had lost five of their previous seven games. Naji Marshall added 17 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Detroit with 22 points. Saddiq Bey had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Hamidou Diallo contributed 19 points and seven rebounds. Killian Hayes added 17 points and six assists and Jaden Ivey chipped in 12 points and six assists.

Both teams were missing numerous starters due to injuries and Valanciunas feasted on a Detroit frontcourt that was lacking starters Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren.

The Pelicans were trailing 42-41 midway through the second quarter, then reeled off 14 unanswered points. Jose Alvarado was the sparkplug during the spurt, scoring five points and dishing out two assists. Detroit chipped away and pulled within 59-50 by halftime.

Murphy made a 3-pointer with seven minutes left in the third quarter, giving New Orleans a 75-61 advantage. A fast-break dunk by Diallo cut it to 10 at 83-73. New Orleans nudged the advantage to 14 again but the Pistons scored the last five points of the quarter to make it 92-83 entering the fourth.

The Pelicans scored the first four points of the quarter but the Pistons answered with seven straight points, capped by Ivey’s dunk. A layup by Diallo soon pulled Detroit within four points.

Valanciunas scored four straight points for a 105-96 Pelicans lead before a 6-0 Pistons spurt closed the gap to three.

Valanciunas’ layup with 2:30 remaining gave New Orleans a 110-103 lead. He surpassed the 30-point mark with a pair of free throws.

A steal and dunk by Hayes made it 112-108 with 26 seconds left. Valanciunas then knocked down two free throws, and McCollum’s steal let New Orleans ice it.

New Orleans swept the season series. It collected a 104-98 home win over the Pistons last month.

–Field Level Media