clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ingram was clutch but Devonte proved clutchest in Pelicans 113-110 win over Thunder

A 64-foot heave wound up the game-winner!

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Devonte’ Graham, a noted difficult shot-maker in the league, was 0-10 on heaves in his career entering tonight’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

He’s now off the schneid after making one of the most amazing shots you’ll ever see in your life.

“Yeah, I called bank on that one,” Graham said in postgame. “You know today’s the 15th. We got paid today. Took it to the bank.”

The longest game-winning buzzer beater in the NBA over the last 25 years propelled the Pelicans to a must-see-to-believe 113-110 victory.

Honestly, watching two bombs from 30+ feet fall through the net inside the final 2.3 seconds felt like a dream. At first, New Orleans fans thought they had all the makings of a nightmare once Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 33-footer dropped, but then the hero made a last second appearance by banking in a 64-footer.

Believe it or not, the Pelicans have a play call for such end-of-game scenarios — Vegas.

“It’s called Vegas,” Graham said. “We have a play call for it. We have three different options to hit. Thankfully, we {chose} the right option.”

Graham finished with 15 points, eight assists and four rebounds. He scored all of his points from the 3-point line (5-10 3PTA).

In case you’re wondering, he wound up with the game ball, telling postgame media that “my grandma or my mama or somebody is going to be excited for it.”

Although that marks two game-winners on the season for Graham now, the Pelicans wouldn’t have been in position to snatch such an improbable victory if it wasn’t for the clutch play of Brandon Ingram.

Ingram, who finished with 34 points, eight rebounds and four assists, scored 11 of the Pelicans’ 19 points in clutch minutes, going 4-5 from the field and 3-4 from the foul line.

Over his last eight games, Ingram is averaging 27.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.8 assists. He also added another spectacular dunk to his 2021-22 resume.

While Ingram was taking his normal rest to begin the fourth quarter, Jonas Valanciunas stepped up in a big way. The center scored seven of New Orleans’ first 10 points of the frame, helping the Pelicans flip a 78-75 deficit to an 85-81 lead.

The Thunder decided to guard Valanciunas with smaller defenders and he made them pay by dominating the offensive glass.

Valanciunas produced his league-leading 23rd double-double, winding up with 19 points, 16 rebounds and two steals.

Josh Hart, who attacked early and scored a quick five points to give the Pelicans a 10-6 lead, finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

For as dramatic as the final few seconds played out, the first quarter and part of the second, was a really rough go.

The Pelicans had five turnovers through the first 7:17 minutes to their credit. Just seconds into the second quarter, they had committed their seventh and were a paltry 3-7 from the free throw line — a precursor to major struggles from the charity stripe all night (66.7% on 36 FT attempts).

Fortunately, the high rate of turnovers ceased, as evidenced by finishing with 12 of them for the game.

Needing a heroic shot to beat a Thunder team missing Lugentz Dort obviously signals there were other problematic issues. The majority of them stemmed yet again from the Pelicans’ bench.

New Orleans’ reserves were outscored 52-26, with Kenrich Williams (17 points, 5-6 3PTA) and Mike Muscala (16 points in 14 minutes) doing much of the heavy lifting for OKC.

When it appeared that the Pelicans might start widening an early fourth quarter lead, Garrett Temple fouled Muscala not once but twice on 3-point attempts. Of course the Thunder’s stretch five made all six of his free throw attempts.

In addition to Temple’s miscues, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Tomas Satoransky were more detrimental than beneficial to the cause. While with NAW one got the sense that he wanted so badly to play well against his cousin, Satoransky continues to produce so few positives in his minutes. It’s one of the most puzzling things I’ve ever seen considering he always seemed productive in his previous stints with the Bulls and Wizards.

With the victory, the Pelicans improve to 9-21 on the season, but one should wonder if tonight’s ending can carry some momentum into the next few matchups, starting with the Bucks on Friday inside the Smoothie King Center.

Even if it doesn’t, no one is going to forget Devonte’s buzzer-beater anytime soon.

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 @OlehKosel.