New Orleans Pelicans Secure Playoff Spot In NBA Play-In Victory 105-98 Without Zion Williamson

The New Orleans Pelicans secured their spot in the playoffs with a hard-fought victory over the Sacramento Kings in a thrilling NBA play-in tournament showdown.

On Friday night, the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Sacramento Kings 105-98 in a play-in tournament elimination game to secure a position in the NBA playoffs. Brandon Ingram scored 24 points, Jonas Valanciunas contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the team won.

New Orleans Pelicans Secure Playoff Spot In NBA Play-In Victory 105-98 Without Zion Williamson

Leading scorer Zion Williamson, who injured his left hamstring just as he was about to score 40 points in a play-in game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, was sidelined for the Pelicans’ victory.

Without Williamson in the starting lineup, New Orleans improved to 8-5 this season by employing a methodical approach. Six players, including reserves Larry Nance Jr. (13), Naji Marshall (11), and Jose Alvarado (10), scored ten points or more.
In Williamson’s absence, Trey Murphy III started and scored 16 more points for New Orleans.

Domantas Sabonis finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds, while De’Aaron Fox scored 35 points for Sacramento.

After missing two prior opportunities to secure a postseason berth at home, the Pelicans’ ability to manage the pressure of a do-or-die game was put to the test in this contest.

After falling short of securing the sixth seed in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Lakers, New Orleans lost to them again on Tuesday. They faced the prospect of missing the NBA playoffs going into their game against the Kings, making history as the first 49-win club in over 50 years (since Phoenix in 1972).

Rather than facing a playoff series, New Orleans has advanced to 6-0 versus Sacramento this season, making history as the first club to do so since Denver defeated Minnesota in 1994–95.

The Pelicans also continued a run of No. 7 seeds never missing the postseason since the NBA started using play-in competitions in 2020. The Pelicans will play Oklahoma City as the eighth seed in the opening round of the playoffs on Sunday, after losing to the Lakers on Tuesday.

Twelve points were scored by the Kings as a result of six first-quarter mistakes by the careless Pelicans. Herb Jones committed a turnover that allowed Fox, who scored 18 points in the first half, to make a basket, giving Sacramento a 24–17 lead.

The Pelicans soon closed the distance, and in the second quarter, New Orleans took a 13-point advantage thanks to reverse layups by McCollum and three points from Murphy.

With a three-pointer and a steal from Keegan Murray that he turned into a breakaway dunk, Marshall startled the Pelicans. Murray rushed to the locker room soon after it appeared that he had damaged himself when he collapsed while loosing the ball.

This situation severely reduced the depth of a Kings team that already had Kevin Huerter (left shoulder) and Malik Monk (right knee) out.

Late in the half, a short hook shot from Valanciunas and a layup from Ingram gave the Pelicans a 53-40 lead, which Fox’s three-pointer helped the Kings cut to 54-45 at the half.

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