Pelicans return home tonight to face Mavs after finishing road trip 2-1
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It’s easy to say that the New Orleans Pelicans (6-17) are finally playing their best basketball under first-year head coach Willie Green this season. Coming off of a 2-1 road trip that included wins against the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz, the Pelicans will look to build some momentum as they host the Dallas Mavericks (10-9) tonight at home.
All season long, the young squad has leaned on center Jonas Valančiūnas in the absence of Zion Williamson and also Brandon Ingram and others missing significant time due to injuries. Valančiūnas comes into tonight’s game following up a career-best performance in the 123-104 victory over the Clippers in which he totaled: 39 pts., 15 reb., and a career-high 7-for-8 from 3-point range.
“He changed the game for us tonight,” said Brandon Ingram of Valančiūnas in a postgame interview after the win over the Clippers. “He came out with a lot of energy and looked like he played loose. He was the head of the snake of everything we did.”
Against the Clippers, Brandon Ingram had a strong performance with totals of 27 pts., 7 reb., and 4 ast. Since his return from a hip injury, the Pelicans have gone 5-5.
As of now, rookie forward Herb Jones, who scored 16 points against the Clippers, is still in the starting lineup. Josh Hart has started in the backcourt with Devonte Graham while Nickeil Alexander-Walker has brought energy and scoring off the bench in recent games. The lineup switch seems to have contributed to recent success, bringing more defensive energy and rebounding earlier and more sustained scoring throughout the game. In the most recent win, Hart only scored 4 points but totaled 12 rebounds and 8 assists.
The biggest factor that seems to have contributed to recent wins for the Pelicans is health. All major rotation players have returned to the lineup except for Williamson who has yet to debut due to foot surgery in the offseason. As the team gets closer to total health, Williamson appears to be nearing a return. He’s been cleared for practices and team officials are working to establish a return date.
Dallas has slid lately, going 1-5 in their last 6 games. Luka Dončić has dealt with injuries as of late and the team has been up and down. The Pelicans tip-off with Dallas tonight at 7 p.m. in the Smoothie King Center and will face them again on Friday at 7:30 p.m on the road.
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