Zion takes over in OT; Pels keep in playoff hunt

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Observing a double-digit deficit and watching their dwindling playoff hopes fade away late within the fourth quarter towards the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night time, the New Orleans Pelicans leaned on Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram to maintain them combating.

Trailing by 10 with underneath 4 minutes left, the Pelicans used a 14-4 run to pressure additional time after which Williamson scored seven of his game-high 37 factors within the ultimate interval to guide the Pelicans to a 140-136 win.

A loss Saturday would have put the Pelicans 4 video games again of the play-in match with eight video games to go. As a substitute, they’re three again heading into Monday night time’s showdown towards the Golden State Warriors, who at present maintain the eighth seed.

“I believe it offers us nice momentum,” stated Williamson, who added 9 rebounds and eight assists. “We received the win. Within the locker room, that is all we care about. We received the win and it permits us to return residence with nice momentum and hopefully we are able to carry it.”

Ball had a career-high 33 factors, tied a profession finest with eight 3-pointers and added 11 rebounds and eight assists.

In line with Elias Sports activities Bureau analysis, Williamson and Ball turned simply the fifth set of teammates in NBA historical past to every have at the least 30 factors, 8 rebounds and eight assists in a sport.

“Numerous guys on this staff that simply received that battle in them, that canine in them,” Ball stated. “It got here out tonight, and we ended up going into additional time with an excellent cease by Z. After which he carried us in OT and we got here out with the win.”

Down the stretch, Ingram additionally stepped up on what was in any other case a cold-shooting night time (4-of-17). Ingram drew back-to-back fouls simply earlier than the two-minute mark that reduce the result in 4 and fouled out Jaden McDaniels within the course of.

After a Willy Hernangomez putback tied the rating with 21.9 seconds to go, Williamson helped pressure a nasty 3-point try by D’Angelo Russell to ship the sport to an additional session.

It was a consequence the Pelicans hoped they might have seen Wednesday night time when additionally they got here again from a late deficit to virtually pressure additional time — though a no-call on a dunk try by Williamson led to a two-point win by the Denver Nuggets.

This time, Williamson took over within the additional interval and fouled out Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid on back-to-back performs to stretch the Pelicans’ result in six with 1:38 to go and put New Orleans in management.

“We did not get the consequence we wished within the Denver sport, however we saved combating ’til the very finish,” Williamson stated. “That is the mindset now we have to have going into these ultimate [eight] video games. Must take it one sport at a time and play till the ultimate buzzer.”

In line with ESPN Stats and Data, groups have been 7-637 getting into Saturday when trailing by 10 factors within the ultimate 4 minutes of regulation. New Orleans’ win was victory No. 8.

With the win within the bag, the Pelicans can shift their full consideration to the Warriors on Monday. Their activity — making an attempt to take down Stephen Curry and firm 3 times within the ultimate eight video games.

“Our destiny isn’t in no person else’s palms. It is on us to go on the market and win,” Williamson stated. “You may’t ask for nothing higher than that for the state of affairs we’re at present in. The destiny is in our palms, and we simply gotta make it occur.”

The Pelicans (29-35) are three video games behind each the Warriors (32-32) and the Spurs (31-31), however with San Antonio proudly owning the regular-season tiebreaker over New Orleans and the three video games left towards Golden State, profitable towards the Warriors creates essentially the most viable path to the playoffs.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy stated the staff has talked about viewing every of its remaining video games as its “greatest sport of the yr.”

“That is how it’s important to strategy it as a result of we won’t afford very many losses,” Van Gundy stated. “Clearly we’re combating with Golden State, so all people will give attention to that. However you give away a sport tonight, it simply will get additional and additional out of attain.”

For New Orleans, the hope is among the momentum from Saturday’s comeback can carry into Monday’s contest.

“[We’re] going into Monday with a must-win mentality,” Ball stated. “We’re not likely targeted on Tuesday. We gotta take it one sport at a time. We will not look forward. Now we have to place all our give attention to that first sport Monday and are available out with a win and go from there.

“It helps quite a bit that our future is in our palms. We do not have to fret about anyone else. It is all on us. Now we have three video games towards them. It will not be simple in any respect. We all know it is a powerful activity. But it surely’s potential. And that is all we are able to ask for is an opportunity. So we’ll are available in Monday able to go.”