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Pelicans push past Spurs, earn date with Clippers

Sportsnaut
Apr 13, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) grabs a rebound against New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) during the first half of a play-in playoff game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

CJ McCollum scored 32 points and Brandon Ingram added 27 as the host New Orleans Pelicans defeated the San Antonio Spurs 113-103 in a Western Conference play-in game Wednesday night.

Jonas Valanciunas had 22 points and 14 rebounds and rookies Herbert Jones and Jose Alvarado added 12 each for the ninth-seeded Pelicans, who will visit the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in another elimination game Friday night.

The winner of that contest will earn the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoffs and a date with the Phoenix Suns in the first round.

Devin Vassell scored 23 points, Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl had 16 each, Keldon Johnson put up 15 and Josh Richardson and Lonnie Walker IV contributed 12 apiece for the 10th-seeded Spurs, whose fourth consecutive loss ended their season.

Jones made two 3-pointers as New Orleans extended its 11-point halftime lead to 77-60 midway through the third quarter.

Vassell sank two free throws before Valanciunas made four consecutive Pelicans baskets to help them expand the edge to 85-64.

Johnson responded with three consecutive San Antonio baskets to help trim the deficit to 85-71, but New Orleans held a 92-75 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Pelicans scored the first four points of the fourth quarter, but Johnson had six points to lead a 16-1 run that got San Antonio within 97-91 with 5:18 left.

However, three consecutive baskets — by Ingram, Valanciunas, then Ingram again — gave New Orleans a 103-91 advantage with 3:29 left.

Ingram, who missed the last three games of the regular season because of hamstring tightness, scored 11 points as the Pelicans took an 18-14 lead.

San Antonio tied the score twice before McCollum made two free throws and Jones beat the buzzer with a layup, giving New Orleans a 26-22 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Walker’s 3-pointer started the second-quarter scoring before McCollum recorded nine points to help the Pelicans open a 40-30 lead.

Vassell made two of the Spurs’ four 3-pointers as the visitors closed within 47-46.

McCollum scored 10 during a 14-4 closing run that gave him 27 first-half points and New Orleans a 61-50 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media