Brandon Ingram scored 30 points and CJ McCollum added 19 to help the New Orleans Pelicans rally for a 105-101 victory over the host Los Angeles Clippers in a Friday night play-in game to claim the No. 8 seed for the Western Conference playoffs.
Larry Nance Jr. added 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting and collected 16 rebounds for New Orleans, which will be part of the postseason for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
The Pelicans will face the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in a best-of-seven, first-round series. Game 1 is Sunday night at Phoenix.
The Clippers played without Paul George, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning.
Marcus Morris Sr. recorded 27 points and nine rebounds and Reggie Jackson added 27 points and eight assists for Los Angeles. Norman Powell tallied 17 points for the Clippers.
The Pelicans used a 27-7 burst to turn a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit into a 101-94 lead.
New Orleans moved ahead at 96-94 on Nance’s putback dunk with 4:02 left. McCollum added a jumper with 3:15 remaining and Trey Murphy III had a 3-point shot hit off the front rim and bounce through to end the run with 2:08 to play.
Los Angeles responded with Powell sinking a 3-pointer and Robert Covington adding a basket to trim the deficit to 101-99 with 1:17 left.
Powell later split two free throws to bring the Clippers within 103-101 with 16.9 seconds to play before Valanciunas slammed home a dunk with 12.6 seconds left. Jackson and Morris missed 3-point attempts as Los Angeles’ season came to a close.
Murphy added 14 points for the Pelicans, who shot 48.9 percent from the field and were 6 of 22 (27.3 percent) from 3-point range.
Covington tallied 14 points for Los Angeles, which made 41.2 percent of its shots and was 9 of 36 (25 percent) from behind the arc.
The Clippers trailed by 15 late in the first half before going on a 34-6 burst spanning halftime to take a 75-62 advantage with 4:03 left in the third quarter.
Los Angeles led 84-74 entering the final stanza and pushed the lead back to 13 early in the fourth quarter before the Pelicans went on an 11-0 spurt to move within 87-85 with 8:42 remaining. Just 67 seconds later, McCollum buried a 3-pointer to knot the score at 88.
–Field Level Media