NBA play-in

Pelicans oust Paul George-less Clippers, make playoffs


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Pelicans oust Paul George-less Clippers, make playoffs

TIGHT. Clippers forward Nicolas Batum looks to get past Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram.

Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Pelicans nail the last playoff berth after escaping a Clippers side that played minus star Paul George, who tested positive for COVID-19

Brandon Ingram dropped 30 points and CJ McCollum added 19 to help the New Orleans Pelicans rally for a 105-101 victory over the host Los Angeles Clippers in a play-in game to claim the No. 8 seed for the Western Conference playoffs on Friday night, April 15 (Saturday, April 16, Manila time).

Larry Nance Jr. added 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting and collected 16 rebounds for New Orleans, which will be part of the postseason for the first time since the 2017-2018 season.

The Pelicans will face the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in a best-of-seven, first-round series. Game 1 is Sunday night at Phoenix.

The Clippers played without Paul George, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning.

Marcus Morris Sr. recorded 27 points and 9 rebounds and Reggie Jackson added 27 points and 8 assists for Los Angeles. Norman Powell tallied 17 points for the Clippers.

The Pelicans used a 27-7 burst to turn a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit into a 101-94 lead.

New Orleans moved ahead at 96-94 on Nance’s putback dunk with 4:02 left. McCollum added a jumper with 3:15 remaining and Trey Murphy III had a three-point shot hit off the front rim and bounce through to end the run with 2:08 to play.

Los Angeles responded with Powell sinking a three-pointer and Robert Covington adding a basket to trim the deficit to 101-99 with 1:17 left.

Powell later split two free throws to bring the Clippers within 103-101 with 16.9 seconds to play before Valanciunas slammed home a dunk with 12.6 seconds left. 

Jackson and Morris missed three-point attempts as Los Angeles’ season came to a close.

Murphy added 14 points for the Pelicans, who shot 48.9% from the field and were 6-of-22 (27.3%) from three-point range.

Covington tallied 14 points for Los Angeles, which made 41.2% of its shots and was 9-of-36 (25%) from behind the arc.

The Clippers trailed by 15 late in the first half before going on a 34-6 burst spanning halftime to take a 75-62 advantage with 4:03 left in the third quarter.

Los Angeles led 84-74 entering the final stanza and pushed the lead back to 13 early in the fourth quarter before the Pelicans went on an 11-0 spurt to move within 87-85 with 8:42 remaining. Just 67 seconds later, McCollum buried a three-pointer to knot the score at 88. –

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