The New Orleans Pelicans are one victory away from taking a place in the Western Conference playoffs after falling to San Antonio Spurs, 113-103, on Wednesday night in a 9-to-10 match in the NBA play-offs.
CJ McCullum finished with 32 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valencianas crossed the 20-point plate to take the lead at the end of the New Orleans attack. San Antonio equalized at the end of the attack, with six players scoring double, and taking a big run in the second half to reduce the lead to six points. However, in the end, it was not enough for them to cope with the shortage they faced.
With the win, New Orleans will face the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, facing first-placed Phoenix Suns in the first round of the elimination match for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.
Here are three takeaways along with our live updates from Game.
1. Pelicans are bucket recipients
Playoffs often come down to personal shot-making, and the Pelicans have two of the best in the puzzle, along with CJ McCallum and Brandon Ingram. On Wednesday, Ingram went to the edge, quickly got to the foul line, did a lot of damage, then McCallum went to work, showing endless step-backs and stumbling steps. It shows how energetic this team is at the end of the attack – sometimes they are each defensive – at least by one. I mean, what do you do for a living?
They cooled for a while when San Antonio took the run in the second half, but they went back to work when the team needed to seal the victory. McCullum and Ingram were the biggest reasons for the New Orleans’ tough fight against the Clippers on Friday, and it could be beyond that if they could do it in the first round against the Phoenix Suns. Healthy Zion Williamson is back in the lap next season, and suddenly the Pelicans look like a serious rival in the West.
2. Not in the herb
If only ballots for the season awards had been received two days later, Herb Jones would certainly have received a few more votes for the All-Defense and All-Rookie teams. Already a fan of NBA Twitter, the 23-year-old Rookie showed off his unique defensive skills on the national stage on Wednesday, appearing to be the only one who can do countless plays. Take this play, for example, where he has a block, a robbery and a dunk (not counted because he fouled on the ground before) in a few seconds.
Jones has been an essential part of the Pelicans’ success this season, which is why. In a post-season setting, he not only defends the other team’s best circumference players, but he is also a defensive player, picking up thefts and blocks that lead to easy buckets on the other end. He picked up a respectable 34 percent from the 3-point range this season and went 2-for-4 on Wednesday with 12 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two thefts.
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3. Bob’s last game?
Greg Bopovich has not given any indication that he will retire, but we do not expect him to retire, but 73-year-old coach Zambavan may call this a career before next season. He won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and became the leader of all-time NBA victories earlier this season, so it looks like Bob has not much to achieve. That being said, he appeared to be happy to coach the junior team in a restructuring manner and has been very happy in the media in recent years.
Whether Popovich retires next week or in 20 years, he will always be the best NBA coach of all time and one of the best coaches in any sport. If this was his last game, he would have inspired all his teams with his Spurs brand effort and grace.
After the defeat, Popovich was asked if he would return to his 27th season, and he responded in true pop style.
“That question is irrelevant,” he said.
“Communicator. Music aficionado. Certified bacon trailblazer. Travel advocate. Subtly charming social media fanatic.”