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Pelicans flip script, post impressive 20-point comeback against Clippers in 94-81 win

Hope a 36-16 second quarter hole didn’t scare onlookers away

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

These are so much more fun to write and read when the Pelicans win, aren’t they?

After days of pessimism, blown leads, and roster insults, the New Orleans Pelicans won a game, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 94-81. But it’s not just the fact that they won that matters, it’s the details behind them.

No Devonte’ Graham, no Zion, of course, against a Clipper squad which has been relatively good, especially over the past couple of weeks. But we’re not done. A terrible first quarter, no 20-point Brandon Ingram performance overall ... and they won?!

“Tremendous effort,” Willie Green said in postgame. “We talked about it in practice. Just overall, we went out and competed. They knocked us on our heels early, but we sustained and once we played with a sense of urgency, it was a big difference in our play overall.”

For the Los Angeles Clippers, they experienced a taste of what the Pelicans endured many a night last season: A disappointing Eric Bledsoe game in New Orleans.

After being riddled with boos from the home crowd throughout the night, Bledsoe finished with seven points on 3-10 shooting. However, he was far from alone in his struggles on the visiting team.

The Clippers simply had one of their worst shooting nights of the season, including an 8-26 performance from Paul George. So, you know we have to show Herbert Jones some love right?

We’re going to get to all of the individual impressive performances for the Pelicans in our observations, but first, we want to thank all of the fans who continue to show up and support a team that’s suffering through another frustrating start to a season.

There were several moments where The Blender was rocking as the Pelicans gave it everything they had. Not many 3-14 teams receive a ton of energy from a home crowd that New Orleans provided tonight. Then again, holding an opponent to just 26 points in the second half was bound to stir together plenty of joy.

Key Observations

Hart and Soul:

L.A. Clippers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

If anyone believes Josh Hart’s start to the season is a fluke, he continues to show otherwise. Hart notched a double-double, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals. As he’s done repeatedly since his arrival, he displayed an elite level of passion and necessary leadership.

“Yeah, I think now I’m like the third or fourth oldest on the team, which is kind of weird,” Hart said in postgame. “So, it’s definitely a little bit different, but something I’m comfortable with. The biggest thing for me is I go out there and I try to play hard on every possession, and when I do that, I can demand that from my team. I can talk to those guys, and what I’m saying holds weight. It’s easy to talk and tell guys what they’re supposed to do or try to coach guys, but if you’re not going out there and doing it yourself, those words don’t mean anything.”

Hart’s game has improved, and he’s filling a bigger offensive role on the team. No one attacks each game quite like him. It’s nice to see it be rewarded with a victory.

The Kira Show

L.A. Clippers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Kira Lewis Jr. had his best game as a pro Friday night. We really could just leave it there and move on, but you have to give the second-year man his flowers. After being glued to the bench for three games, his number was called. Lewis more than delivered.

The backup point guard saw plenty of action with Devonte’ out, finishing his night with 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists. He added three steals on the defensive side of the ball. He made a couple of threes — his first bombs since November 3.

Lewis can provide an athletic spark that no other point guard truthfully can on New Orleans roster when we’re talking speed, quickness and penetration ability. If Lewis could build on a night like Friday, it’ll be a huge development for a team not only needing him to improve, but needing whatever they can muster off of the bench.

Jonas Valanciunas: The Splash Brother

LA Clippers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

Slide on over Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, there’s another Splash Brother that needs to be acknowledged across the league.

It’s been mentioned over the last few days or so of how Jonas Valanciunas leads the NBA in three-point percentage. However, his volume of attempts don’t match the players he’s competing with. Green has been vocal about changing that to a degree, encouraging JV to shoot more often from the outside.

Well, one can’t say that Big Val doesn’t listen to his head coach.

Valanciunas ended his night shooting 5-9 from deep, which marked personal career-highs in makes and attempts for a game. No one should expect for him to shoot over 50 percent for the rest of the season, but what kind of weapon could he be going forward if he increases his outside volume while maintaining a healthy amount of post looks?

And what happens when Zi ... you know where we’re going. At the end of the day, no player has been more valuable to NOLA’s cause than Jonas, and if the Pels aren’t good enough to get him into the next All-Star game, here’s hoping the he gets selected as a three-point contest participant.

The Pelicans have no time to savor their third victory of the season as the second night of a back-to-back looms. Tomorrow they’ll wake up in Indiana, needing to face the Pacers Saturday evening.

We’ll have to wait and see if they can string two wins together for a first time during the 2021-22 campaign. Either way, it’s simple good to be victorious again.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @Impatientbull.