NEW ORLEANS — What started out as a promising weekend for the New Orleans Pelicans was slowly turning into a nightmare.
In a back-to-back deciding game against the two teams they face in the Western Conference qualifying race, the Pelicans lost by four points to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, then found themselves at 23 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Sunday evening.
But after a 41-point third quarter, the Pelicans cruised to a 116-108 victory, slipping to ninth place in the West with a half-game lead over the Lakers and a one-game lead. and a half on the Spurs.
“We made some adjustments at halftime, just challenging our squad to be more disciplined,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. straight away hit in the mouth. We hung on. We were resilient throughout the game. The goal and the key for us is not trying to get it back at once. Just one save. One score at a time. the time. We are so proud of the locker room. It was growth.
According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, it was the biggest lost lead in a game that LeBron James has fitted for the Lakers. After the game, he called the loss a “microcosm” of the season. ‘team.
“We haven’t been able to last all year, and tonight was one of those instances again,” James said. came with the mindset understanding that it was a playoff type atmosphere, playoff implications and things of that nature…. It feels like a wasted opportunity, obviously, for me and for our team. We couldn’t do it.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said the team needs to move on quickly from Tuesday’s game against the Mavericks in Dallas.
“It hurts. This game hurts. It was a big game,” Vogel said. “But we have to regroup, we have to find a way to beat Dallas and get some wins here. Time is running out. We came out with the appropriate urgency for this game, but weren’t able to get it. close.”
The performance was stunning due to how Los Angeles dominated the first half. James scored a game-high 25 of his 39 points. The team shot 66.7 percent from the field and hit 11 of 19 3-pointers. Everything was going the Lakers way. .
But just like they did in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, the Pelicans used a huge third quarter to change the momentum. On that date, they outscored the Lakers 44-25 in the quarter. This time, they outclassed them 41-25.
Los Angeles still had a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but New Orleans took it for good on a Brandon Ingram pull-up with 5:01 left.
“It shows that we believe in each other,” Ingram said. “We were down and in the face of adversity at this point where LeBron was getting everything he wanted. Everyone stayed calm. We executed on the defensive side.”
Ingram had missed 10 straight games with a right hamstring injury. He was limited to just under 26 minutes but responded with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“It’s good to have him back, No. 1,” Green said. “We’ve missed him. The things he does on the floor are amazing. His size, his strength, his ability to shoot over guys. I think more than anything, our guys understand the moment.”
The Pelicans also played CJ McCollum (sprained left ankle) and Jonas Valanciunas (right foot) after each was a playing time decision. McCollum had 18 points and Valanciunas finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
New Orleans nearly lost Jaxson Hayes in the first quarter after dislocating his left index finger, but he came back with his fingers stuck together on his left hand.
But perhaps the Pelicans’ biggest boost of the night came from rookie Trey Murphy, who had 21 points, all in the second half. Murphy scored 16 in the third quarter as New Orleans began its comeback.
“I just think he’s preparing for those times,” Green said. “He’s played in some G League games. Hard work, going to the gym and working on his art. over the course of the season. We needed all his 21 years tonight. We are proud of him.
Murphy’s minutes have been inconsistent this season, but once Ingram suffered a hamstring injury, he was recalled from the G League to receive major rotation minutes Over the past 10 games, Murphy has averaged 9.9 points while shooting 48.7% from deep.
“Just be confident and know that’s what they drafted you for,” Murphy said. “I shot at a high level in my last year of college, and I continued to work on that and got better. For our team to win, I have to contribute in some way. another. Shooting is definitely a way for me to do that.”
The Pelicans still have seven games to play, including five on the road. They begin a four-game road trip Wednesday against the Trail Blazers in Portland. The game after? A trip to Los Angeles to face the Lakers for the last time this season.
Green knows the confidence from Sunday’s win could go a long way in determining whether the Pelicans have any playoff games ahead of them.
“We might see one of those teams again,” Green said. “It was a tremendous momentum generator for our group.”
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.