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McCollum, Ingram lead Pelicans to play-in win over Spurs

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NEW ORLEANS — CJ McCollum bought New Orleans going early and Brandon Ingram took over late to ship the Pelicans to Los Angeles for an opportunity on the ultimate playoff spot.

McCollum scored 27 of his 32 factors within the first half to hold the younger Pelicans to a 113-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday evening. New Orleans will face the LA Clippers on Friday evening for the eighth playoff seed.

“He was nice,” Pelicans coach Willie Inexperienced mentioned of McCollum. “He set the tone early. He understood the second, and it type of calmed the remainder of the fellows down. We simply bought the ball to him and he made play after play, rating after rating, after which the remainder of the fellows that simply began to feed off CJ.”

Enjoying in his 57th playoff sport, McCollum displayed a relaxing presence to his youthful teammates. Rookies Herb Jones, José Alvarado and Trey Murphy performed massive chunks of the fourth quarter.

“I used to be simply attempting to be locked in and aggressive early,” McCollum mentioned. “The playoffs is a whole lot of antics, a whole lot of momentum performs, a whole lot of forwards and backwards. You’ve bought to be secure and mentally locked in to resist a sure stage of (chaos). … There’s going to be a whole lot of successful in our future.”

CJ McCollum, who scored 32 points, shoots a runner during the Pelicans' 113-103 win over the Spurs.
CJ McCollum, who scored 32 factors, shoots a runner through the Pelicans’ 113-103 win over the Spurs.
Getty Photographs

McCollum wasn’t alone. Ingram shook foul hassle so as to add 27 factors and middle Jonas Valanciunas added 22 factors and 14 rebounds because the Pelicans’ stars delivered beneath stress of New Orleans’ first postseason sport since 2018.

“The three greatest gamers for New Orleans all performed nice, and if that occurs, you’re going to lose,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich mentioned of his workforce’s incapability to include McCollum, Ingram and Valanciunas. “We stayed in it and bought again in it, however then we made the identical errors as we did within the first three quarters – non bodily protection.”

“We’re simply enjoying for one another,” Valanciunas mentioned of mixing for 81 factors with McCollum and Ingram. “When issues wrestle, we want anyone to sluggish the sport down, which (CJ) does. Subsequent step is on Friday.”

Popovich mentioned his younger workforce, which averages 25 years in age, realized a lesson the arduous approach.

Brandon Ingram, who scored 27 points, drives on the Spurs' Keldon Johnson during the Pelicans' win.
Brandon Ingram, who scored 27 factors, drives on the Spurs’ Keldon Johnson through the Pelicans’ win.
AP

“It’s the playoffs, and also you’ve bought to be into individuals,” Popovich mentioned. “The grunt is vital. Ingram scored two in a row proper in the course of the lane with nobody even touching him. It’s an incredible lesson for our guys.”

The Pelicans, who completed ninth within the West after beginning the season 3-16, will play on the Clippers with the winner dealing with the top-seeded Phoenix Suns within the first spherical. New Orleans beat Los Angeles in three of 4 conferences this season.

The Pelicans appeared headed to a rout, main 96-75, with 10:39 left, however the Tenth-seeded Spurs used a 16-1 run over the following 5:25 to chop it to 97-91. The Pelicans missed seven consecutive pictures through the run.

Ingram hit a pair of soppy jumpers within the lane and Valanciunas added a brief jumper to place New Orleans again on high, 103-91.

Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 23 factors. Dejounte Murray had 16 factors, however he went simply 5 of 19 from the ground whereas being shadowed by Pelicans rookie defensive stopper Herb Jones.

“It’s important to take the great and dangerous and be taught from it,” Murray mentioned. “We had guys not shoot effectively, beginning with myself. They have been bodily. I ain’t making no excuses.”

After Ingram went to the bench with three fouls 5:17 earlier than halftime, McCollum carried the Pelicans offensively. In a 14-4 run over the ultimate 3:36 of the half, McCollum made two 3-pointers and pierced the San Antonio protection for 2 finger-roll layups on sturdy drives into the lane as New Orleans constructed a 61-50 lead.

McCollum made 10 of his first 12 pictures, together with 2 of three from lengthy vary, regardless of drawing constant double groups.