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Jrue Holiday’s season-high 37 points leads Pelicans to 120-107 victory over Timberwolves

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Several others put up fantastic stat lines too, but New Orleans committed an ugly 25 turnovers as a team

New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

After falling to beat Minnesota less than a week ago on their home floor, the New Orleans Pelicans made amends for that disappointment on the road Sunday by beating the Timberwolves handily, 120-107.

The game began with two quick made field goals (a dunk by Zion Williamson and an and-1 by Brandon Ingram), but then the Pelicans proceeded to turn the ball over three times in a span of 69 seconds. That was a fitting microcosm of how things would go on to unfold in this contest.

New Orleans led 34-17 at one point in the first quarter, which included a couple of fun long lob dunks by Zion. They then proceeded to watch the Wolves knot the score up at 48 apiece in the second quarter as the reserves outside of Nicolo Melli played poorly to lose that early momentum. The Pelicans fortunately regrouped before halftime and went on to seize a 20-point advantage late in the third quarter; however, the fourth quarter ride was an uncomfortable one. The Wolves made things interesting several times before New Orleans was able to finally put them away.

The main reason for the roller coaster? The Pelicans found little trouble of scoring the basketball when the offense produced shot attempts (48.9 FG%); however, it crashed and burned far too many times as evidenced by 25 turnovers, one of their season-high. Minnesota scored a whopping 30 points off those turnovers.

“We were horrendous from an offensive standpoint as far as taking care of the basketball: 25 turnover and 30 points {off those turnovers},” a miffed Alvin Gentry said. “You’re not going to win very many games doing that. It’s concerning since we played against a zone for most of the second half. There shouldn’t be any turnovers. You don’t have to shoot the ball well, but you definitely shouldn’t be turning it over against a zone.”

The Pelicans’ head coach refused to focus on much else in his postgame interview as he then went on to say, “You’ve just got to focus and do what you’re supposed to do. Execute the way you’re supposed to execute and not make dumbass plays. You know, high-risk plays. That’s what we’ve got to get away from.”

The Pelicans were able to leave Minnesota with a victory despite all the mistakes because Jrue Holiday put together one of the finest games of his professional career. He got rolling in the second quarter to help stem the Wolves’ charge by getting to the rim repeatedly and he never cooled. When the dust had finally settled, Holiday was responsible for 37 points — one off his career-high, nine rebounds, eight assists and three triples. The best part was probably eight makes from the free throw line on nine attempts. He had previously made just 9-17 from the stripe through the first four games of March.

His starting backcourt partner didn’t have the cleanest game in the world with seven turnovers, but Lonzo Ball was really good too, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds, eight assists, four threes and two steals. We’ve become accustomed to his deep-ball proficiency, but Lonzo was excellent in attacking the rim, even finishing through contact at least several times.

Zion Williamson returned to the 20-point plateau by pouring in 23 points while also adding seven rebounds, one 3-pointer, one windmill dunk, and a huge block of Malik Beasley.

Brandon Ingram finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and Derrick Favors nearly posted a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Off the bench, Melli had 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.

The Timberwolves were led by Malik Beasley, who finished with a line of 21 points, nine boards and four treys.

Before concluding this recap, I must make mention of the referees. They were awful. Several contests against the Utah Jazz stand out on the year because of their endings, but from start to finish, today’s matchup likely featured the worst collection of calls we’ve witnessed in a Pelicans’ game all season.

Holiday, Lonzo and Ingram all had three personal fouls each at halftime. That was an interesting development considering the referees missed a whole bunch of point-blank contact, from pushes in the back to reaches to arms getting entangled. One of the offensive fouls Ingram picked up was a joke, but the dam finally burst at the 3:36 mark of the third quarter. Josh Hart picked up a technical foul for yelling for a foul call and replay showed that Beasley did indeed dislodge the ball from Hart’s grasp by whacking him on the arm and then wrapping it up in such a way that gave Josh no chance of keeping possession. Thankfully, the bad/missed calls didn’t game affect the outcome of the game.

The Pelicans victory over the Wolves moves them to within four games of the Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference standings.

Up next, New Orleans will hop on a plane and go spend a few days in Sacramento before facing the Kings on Wednesday. Sacramento is in action tonight, hosting the Toronto Raptors. If they lose, both the Kings and Pelicans will move into a tie for ninth.