Sacramento Kings vs New Orleans Pelicans Live Score and Stats – April 19, 2024 GameTracker

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Hustle plays and production up and down the lineup helped the New Orleans Pelicans overcome the absence of leading scorer Zion Williamson, keep their season alive and avoid a historic loss.

Brandon Ingram scored 24 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans booked a spot in the NBA playoffs with a 105-98 victory over the Sacramento Kings in a play-in tournament elimination game on Friday night.

“We stayed together. We supported each other. We played for each other,” Valanciunas said. “We all want to go to the playoffs. We've done it by playing good basketball, supporting each other, helping each other on defense, on offense, sharing the ball, you know, playing basketball the right way.

Williamson was sidelined with a left hamstring strain Tuesday night after scoring 40 points in a play-in loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

New Orleans used a balanced approach to improve to 8-5 without Williamson this season. Six players scored 10 or more points, including reserves Larry Nance Jr. (13), Naji Marshall (11) and Jose Alvarado (10).

“You get 34 points off your bench, it was a great night for them, a tough night for us,” Kings coach Mike Brown said.

Trey Murphy III, starting in Williamson's absence, added 16 points for New Orleans, which opens Sunday's first-round playoff series at top-seeded Oklahoma City.

‚ÄúThat's great. “That was a goal at the beginning of the year,” Ingram said of a playoff spot. “Today we had another opportunity and we came in and everybody contributed.”

De'Aaron Fox scored 35 points and Domantas Sabonis had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the ninth-seeded Kings, who defeated 10th-seeded Golden State in their playoff opener to set up a matchup with New Orleans.

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Young openers Keegan Murray (4 for 12) and Keon Ellis (0 for 5, 0 for 0, 4 for 17, 4 for 17, 4 for 17, 4 for 17, 5 for 17, 17 for 17) “We were a little passive offensively, we weren't all aggressive in our game tonight,” he said, noting that he went 0-for-5 (0-for-5 on 0-for-5 0-for-17 shooting). )

“We can get the ball in the paint,” added Brown, whose team was outshot 58-44 inside and missed seven of 22 free throws. “You can finish and you have to go to the free throw line and convert.”

The game tested the Pelicans' ability to handle the pressure of a do-or-die game after squandering two previous opportunities to lock up a playoff berth at home.

They lost their regular-season finale to the New Orleans Lakers on Sunday before losing again to the Lakers on Tuesday, missing a chance to finish sixth. They faced the Kings with a chance to become the first 49-win team in more than 50 years (Phoenix in 1972) to miss the NBA playoffs.

Instead, New Orleans went 6-0 against Sacramento this season, becoming the first team to go 6-0 in a season (without a playoff series) against an opponent since Minnesota in 1994-95 against Denver.

“We deserved it. We felt that coming into this game,” Nance said. “We deserved the playoffs. You don't win 49 games by accident.

Since the NBA adopted the play-in tournament in 2020, the Pelicans have gone 7-seeded without missing the playoffs. Due to a play-in loss to the Lakers, the Pelicans enter the playoffs as the eighth seed.

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The Pelicans were sluggish early on, committing six first-quarter turnovers that led to 11 Kings points. Sacramento, which was missing Malik Monk (right knee) and Kevin Huerder (left shoulder) from its lineup, took a 24-17 lead after Herb Jones' turnover led to a Fox rally that scored 18 points in the first half.

CJ McCollum's reverse layup and Murphy's 3 helped the Pelicans close the gap quickly, and New Orleans took a 13-point lead into the second quarter.

Marshall gave the Pelicans a 3 and Murray had a steal, which he turned into a breakaway dunk. Murray injured his hip when he fell while losing the ball. He went to the locker room after a while, but returned in the second half.

Valanciunas' short hook shot and Ingram's layup put the Pelicans up 53-40 late in the half, before Fox's 3 helped the Kings cut it to 54-45 at halftime.

But the Pelicans led by 10 or more points for most of the second half, going as far as 20 in the fourth quarter.

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