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

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Intense 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 historically significant defeat.

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 match on Friday night.

“We stayed together. We supported each other. We played for each other,” Valanciunas said. “We all want to get to the playoffs. And we did it by playing good basketball, supporting each other, helping each other on defense, helping each other on offense, sharing the ball, you know, making a good play. It’s fun to play basketball in this way.

Williamson was sidelined with a left hamstring strain that occurred while reaching the 40-point mark in a play-in loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Undaunted, New Orleans used a balanced approach to improve to 8-5 this season without Williamson. 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’s a good 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 begins a first-round playoff series against top-seeded Oklahoma City on Sunday.

“It feels good. It was a goal at the beginning of the year,” Ingram said of his playoff berth. “We had another opportunity today and we came in and everyone contributed.”

De’Aaron Fox scored 35 points and Domantas Sabonis had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the ninth-seeded Kings, who set up their game against New Orleans by beating No. 10 seed Golden State in of their first play-in match.

“We were a little passive offensively and we weren’t all aggressive in our play tonight,” Brown said, referring to a combined 4-for-17 shooting from young starters Keegan Murray (4-for-12) and Keon Ellis (0 for 5). ).

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

The game was a test of the Pelicans’ ability to handle the pressure of a do-or-die game after squandering two previous opportunities to secure a playoff spot at home.

New Orleans lost to the Lakers in the regular season finale on Sunday, missing a chance to clinch the sixth seed, before losing again to the Lakers on Tuesday. They entered their game against the Kings facing the possibility of becoming the first 49-win team in over 50 years (Phoenix in 1972) to miss the NBA playoffs.

Instead, New Orleans improved to 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 Denver against the Minnesota in 1994-95.

“We deserved it. That’s what we felt coming into this game,” Nance said. “We deserve to be in the playoffs. You don’t win 49 games by accident.

The Pelicans also extended a streak of No. 7 seeds never missing the playoffs since the play-in tournament was adopted by the NBA in 2020. Due to their play-in loss to the Lakers, the Pelicans enter the playoffs as the eighth seed.

The Pelicans were sloppy early, committing six turnovers in the first quarter that led to 11 points for the Kings. Sacramento, which was missing Malik Monk (right knee) and Kevin Huerter (left shoulder) from its lineup, led 24-17 after a Herb Jones turnover led to a layup by Fox, who scored 18 points in the first half-time.

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

Marshall gave the Pelicans a boost with a 3 and a steal from Murray that he turned into a breakaway dunk. Murray injured his hip when he fell while losing the ball. He went to the locker room shortly after, but returned for the second half.

Valanciunas’ short hook shot and Ingram’s layup gave the Pelicans a 53-40 lead late in the half before Fox’s 3 helped the Kings cut it to 54-45 at half-time.

But the Pelicans held a lead of 10 points or more for much of the second half, growing by as much as 20 points in the fourth quarter.

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