Pelicans face Pacers looking for first winning streak
The New Orleans Pelicans have won just three games during the first month of the season.
Two of them have come in the last week, however, and they will look for their first winning streak when they face the Indiana Pacers on Saturday in Indianapolis.
The Pelicans defeated the visiting Los Angeles Clippers 94-81 Friday night, overcoming a 20-point deficit and outscoring the Clippers 51-26 in the second half.
“I’m very proud,” said Josh Hart, who was one of three Pelicans with a double-double, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. “The thing about us is, even when we get down and we dig ourselves a hole, we always for the most part fight back and get back into the game. Then we don’t execute and give the game away.
“This was a big game for us in terms of growing up and maturing because we fought back, and when we fought back, we were able to get stops, we were able to run, we were able to execute and get to our spots.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 26 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans, and Brandon Ingram had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Kira Lewis Jr. came off the bench to score 16.
“Overall, we went out and competed,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “They knocked us on our heels early, but we sustained, and once we played with a sense of urgency, it was a big difference in our play overall.”
The Pacers flirted with a dramatic comeback win of their own Friday but came up short in a 121-118 loss at Charlotte.
They trailed by 25 in the third quarter and pulled within three in the final seconds but could not get a shot off at the buzzer.
“I take full responsibility,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said of his team’s poor start. “Just watching the all-out effort of our second-unit guys is something I’d pay to see.”
Carlisle turned to his bench midway through the fourth quarter, and Brad Wanamaker, who was available but hadn’t played in the previous five games, led the comeback.
Wanamaker scored 10 of his season-high 12 points in the third quarter as the Pacers scored a season-high 37 points in the period and trimmed the deficit to a more manageable 13 entering the fourth.
The reserves scored a season-high 78 points as Carlisle stayed with them instead of the starters throughout the fourth quarter.
“These other guys earned a chance to win the game,” Carlisle said. “They almost did it. They almost pulled what would have been a hell of a small miracle. … They got it to a one-possession game with the ball, so they did an amazing job out there.”
Jeremy Lamb scored a team-high 23 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
“We had nothing to lose,” Lamb said. “We kept playing, kept getting to the line, kept being physical on both ends. … We have to play like that the whole game. We can’t wait until we are down 20 or 25 points.”
Carlisle said he wanted to look at the game tape before deciding if the disparity in the play of the starters and the bench warranted any lineup changes against New Orleans.
–Field Level Media