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The Pelicans lost their lead in the third quarter, then overtook the Clippers in fourth to reach the knockout stages.

New Orleans Pelicans coach Willie Green is trying to figure out exactly what to expect in Friday night’s play-in against the LA Clippers.

This is Green, a first-year head coach, struggling to adjust to it with Ty Lue, a championship-winning coach widely regarded as one of the best in the league. The heavyweight fight, as Green calls the battle, is leaning in favor of Lue and the Clippers as New Orleans saw a 16-point lead in the first half turn into the Clippers’ 10-point lead at the end of the third quarter.

But when he and his team needed it most, Green and the Pelicans landed haymaker after the haymaker with Jonas Valanciunas knocked the final knockout to just 12.6 seconds away, knocking it home. home and delivered a 105-101 victory for the Pelicans.

New Orleans advanced from the play-in as the 8th seed to face the top seed Phoenix Suns. Their first series begins on Sunday night.

The Pelicans became only the fourth team in NBA history to start a season 1-12 or worse and reach the knockout stages with the 1996-97 Suns (0-13), 1984-85 Cleveland Cavaliers (1-) 12) and 1967-68 Chicago Bulls (1-12), according to the ESPN Statistics and Information study.

The Pelicans had a 10-goal lead at halftime but that quickly turned the Clippers’ momentum as they used a 34-6 scoreline in the final minutes of the second half and into the third to pick up momentum in their way. surname.

Los Angeles slowed down after learning that Paul George, who has missed 51 games this season, was placed on health and safety programs earlier in the day. The Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard, who hasn’t played a game this year.

But Lue’s group didn’t give up. His adjustment for Q3 was to start Robert Covington instead of Ivica Zubac and New Orleans had no answer.

“He’s adjusting,” Green said. “He took his big ones off. We’re trying to adjust to fit them. It didn’t work for us. We brought our bigs back. That didn’t work either. results with us.

“So we threw darts at the darts board to try to figure out how we could find an environment where we could play at both ends of the deck.”

In the end, Green landed on a lineup with Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., Trey Murphy and Herb Jones playing most of the minutes of the interval. It gives New Orleans an interchangeable formation in defence, with shots from long enough to get things going on offense.

Part of what kept the Pelicans going in Q4 was a fiery speech by Green, which Murphy said caught him off guard.

“Honestly, it’s another side of Willie that I haven’t seen. He’s been really explosive,” Murphy said. “Most of the time he was very even, but he really burned and lit us up. I think that turned us on in the fourth half. At the end of the day we didn’t want our season to be. We want to keep playing and he’s definitely led the way.”

After the Clippers escaped the first innings of the first round, the Pelicans responded with a 27-7 run that gave them a 101-94 lead 2:10, completed by Murphy’s fourth 3. during the night.

“Boys step up,” Ingram said. “Trey Murphy was huge in that fourth half. Defensively counter-attacked and took shots. We’re going to need that from him when we go on. … Larry Nance came on and was really good. We were. need something from everyone today.”

It was Ingram who sent the Pelicans away early, scoring 16 of his game’s top 30 in the first quarter. Green said Ingram has been on lockdown since the team left New Orleans.

“Brandon Ingram is the truth,” Green said. “He was just carrying it. He’s been looking me in the eye since we got on the plane. Shootaround, he’s been locked in there. He’s been waiting for this moment, for this kind of moment.”

Green also credits Nance, who came on from the bench with 14 points and 16 rebounds, including a shot that knocked New Orleans 4:02 to play.

“Larry is a monster,” Green said. “We think it’s going to be a matchup with Larry, the way they play. Ty Lue’s adjustments are going small and Larry has the ability to protect some of the guys on the outside. He’s big, he’s strong. strong, he can bounce the ball back. We couldn’t have won that game without his efforts.”

This is Ingram’s first time in the knockout stages of his NBA career, which he says he’s excited about. McCollum, who was brought in by the Pelicans in a mid-season transfer, has never missed a playoff in his nine-year career after scoring eight straight goals with Portland.

McCollum said he’s delighted his teammates are joining him in the post-season.

McCollum said of Ingram: “He was one of them. “He’s an exceptional player. He’s achieved his place. Obviously I play alongside him and I’m pleased about that but I’m delighted when the whole world sees what he really is. I think sometimes if you don’t make it to the knockout stage, people are either forgetting you or underestimating your talent. Now he gets to play on the biggest stage. Tonight he showed him. How wonderful it is.”

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/33748068/pelicans-lose-big-lead-third-quarter-rally-clippers-fourth-reach-playoffs The Pelicans lost their lead in the third quarter, then overtook the Clippers in fourth to reach the knockout stages.

John Walker

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