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New Orleans Pelicans comeback bid falls short and Los Angeles Clippers survive, 129-126

Julius Randle and Jrue Holiday combined for 69 points, but it wasn’t enough.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Same story, different night.

The New Orleans Pelicans allowed 77 points in the first half on 65% shooting, and nearly overcame the West-leading Los Angeles Clippers after trailing by as many as 18, 90-72. Following a furious 49-25 rally, the Pelicans momentarily took a four-point lead at 119-115, but Julius Randle’s dismissal due to fouling out with 4:04 to play put to bed any hope of a Pelicans’ comeback victory and the Clippers escaped by a final score of 129-126.

Jrue Holiday was simply spectacular in the second half, scoring 23 of his 32 points to go along with 14 assists, four steals, and four rebounds. Anthony Davis was his usual self, with 23 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks, but it would not be enough as the Clippers shot 59% on the night and seized back momentum without Randle and a career-best performance (37 points, up from previous record of 36).

Give the Pelicans (12-13) some credit as they battled late without two of their starters in Elfrid Payton and Nikola Mirotic, who was a late scratch due to an undisclosed illness, and E’Twaun Moore failed to look like his typical self after returning from a calf injury.

New Orleans didn’t do themselves any favors though as they started slowly (per usual), forfeiting a 14-2 run to Tobias Harris and the Clippers, who opened the contest shooting 64% from the field in the first quarter and seizing a 36-29 advantage after the first quarter.

The Clippers got going early with a lightning quick 4-0 advantage, before Anthony Davis and Julius Randle would take over, contributing 17 of the Pelicans first 21 points, and 21 of 29 in the first quarter. The Pelicans turned the ball over just once until the final minute of the first frame — during the Clippers big run and propelling Harris to an opening quarter 12 points.

The second quarter would be all about defense, or rather, lack thereof. The Pelicans would go on to give up 41 points, and put each of Lou Williams, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Montrezl Harrell, and Danilo Gallinari into double-digits. The NBA leaders in free throws would also get to the line 15 times, drawing a third foul on Anthony Davis late in the second quarter, that gave the Clippers the time they needed to extend to a 77-65 advantage.

The Clippers shot 65% in the first half with 19 assists to just seven turnovers. They outrebounded the Pels by seven, much due to the fact that they only missed on 16 of their 46 shots (Pelicans had 16 rebounds).

The lack of a rim-protecting presence with Anthony Davis on the bench continues to rear its ugly head, as the Pelican sacrificed 38 points in the paint to the group that averages 52.5 per game. The Clippers would finish with 62 on the night.

Julius Randle was the lynchpin for success for the Pelicans, scoring 26 points on 11/16 shooting. His previous season-high of 29 points was nearly overtaken in just the game’s first 21 minutes. Outside of he, Anthony Davis (12 points), and Jrue Holiday (nine), the rest of the Pelicans scored just 18 points. The lone bright spot outside of the three was shockingly Solomon Hill, who hit two three-pointers from the corner. This same Solo had previously hit four triples on the entire season.

The Clippers would take a quick 13-7 run to extend their lead to 18, 90-72, and the game seemed to be in restful doubt. But that’s when Julius Randle would reignite, and the Pelicans’ defense would tighten, holding the Clips to just 24 points in the third quarter while scoring 32 of their own, finishing the stanza down just four, 101-97. The Pelicans used a 19-4 run, culminated by back-to-back threes from Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle. Randle’s final three in the period would give him a new career-high from beyond the arc, and simultaneously give him his biggest scoring output as a Pel (previously 29).

After holding the Clippers to just 24 points in the third quarter, the Pelicans trailed by just four, 101-97 as the fourth period began. However, the good fortune on the defensive end of the floor wouldn’t last long, as the Clippers scored 14 quick points within the first three minutes.

But then, Jrue got cooking. With nine consecutive points for the Pels, he single-handedly led a 7-0 run that would bring the Pels within one following his fourth triple of the game, this one a deep one, and closely contested.

The Pelicans would briefly take the lead behind a three-pointer from Darius Miller and a lob from Jrue Holiday to Anthony Davis that would give the Pelicans a 119-115 advantage, their first since the opening minutes of the first quarter.

But with 4:04 remaining, Julius Randle would foul out, and the Clippers would quickly capitalize. A 6-0 run led to a 121-119 advantage, yet the Pels and Clippers would go back and forth until Anthony Davis missed a potential game-tying free throw with 31 seconds remaining, for a 125-124 deficit.

Lou Williams would use the entirety of the shot clock to hit a 22-foot two-pointer with just 6.4 seconds remaining and a 127-124 advantage. Free throws from there by Darius Miller would close it to 127-126, and the Pelicans had a last gasp three-point attempt by E’Twaun Moore fall short after Tobias Harris extended the Clippers back to three following a couple of makes from the charity stripe.

Julius Randle finished with a new career-high of 37 points and in three-pointers (3/4 on the night) while adding eight rebounds and four assists. He also committed zero turnovers after suffering 19 miscues in the past four games. Jrue Holiday posted a line of 32 points, 14 assists, four rebounds and four steals. Anthony Davis would finish off the group with 23 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals. Darius Miller had 13 off the bench.

Tobias Harris had 25, Gallinari 24, Williams 18, Bradley 15, and Harrell 14 for the Clippers.

The Clippers shot 59% on the night to 51% for the Pelicans. The Clippers shot 40% to the Pelicans’ 38% from three-point range and each team scored over 60 points in the paint (62-64). The Pelicans managed 10 steals, and dominated the transition game (19-5 point advantage). The Clippers turned it over 12 times to just seven for the Pelicans.

Next up, the Pelicans will host the 11-10 Dallas Mavericks in the Smoothie King Center on Wednesday, December 5th, at 7:00 pm Central.

Let’s geaux, Pels!