In a game that the Pelicans needed to win in order to keep pace with the teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings — and they had the finish line well within sight tonight, they faltered down the stretch to lose 117-115 to the Wizards in overtime.
With 5:57 remaining in regulation, New Orleans was ahead 103-94 after James Johnson converted a layup on one of Naji Marshall’s six dimes. The Pelicans went on to make a paltry field goal on 13 shot attempts for the rest of the game though, with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson missing eight of those nine attempts.
Zion struggled with foul trouble as well as scoring over Washington’s defense all night — Daniel Gafford was a one-man wall at the rim with four blocks, but Ingram was cooking through the first three quarters. Entering the final frame, B.I. was sitting on 28 points via 9 of 16 shooting, including 4 of 6 from three-point range and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line.
While Ingram redeemed himself in overtime (3-6 FGA), Williamson registered only one missed shot attempt, had a couple of turnovers and committed the cardinal sin of fouling a Russell Westbrook jump shot with one second left in OT.
Yes, Zion is apparently still human.
Westbrook went on to make both of his free throws and Ingram narrowly missed a heave from beyond half court.
Westbrook was spectacular in outscoring the Pelicans singlehandedly 14-12 from the 5:57 mark of the fourth quarter onwards. In a game where Bradley Beal failed to find any rhythm on his jumper (10-29 FGA, 0-9 3PA), Westbrook carried the Wizards to the victory, totaling 36 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. Two of his three made threes came in the overtime period.
In his return from a left hip injury, Lonzo Ball failed to connect on any of his seven three-attempts, but his defense had a positive impact on Westbrook and Bradley Beal. Unfortunately due to a minutes restriction, Ball did not play in overtime and was held to 20 minutes of action.
Naji Marshall was neck and neck with Ingram for being the most impactful Pelican on the night, finishing with a new career-high of 16 points to go along with 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a couple of threes.
James Johnson (11 points, three rebounds) and Willy Hernangomez (eight points, 10 rebounds) also produced solid stat lines off the bench.
In a game where neither team was effective from the three-point line, the Wizards did a better job of scoring off turnovers (16-8 point differential) and taking advantage of the transition game (16-4 point differential). In addition, I felt as though New Orleans missed more than their usual share of easy attempts near the rim in the game. Hernangomez couldn’t convert a couple of tip-ins and other players combined to miss too many layups.
With this loss to the Wizards, the Pelicans now sit two games in back of the Spurs, who lost 107-106 tonight to the Trail Blazers, for the tenth position in the West and three games behind the Warriors for ninth.
Up next, New Orleans travels to New York where they’ll face the Knicks in a Sunday matinee game tipping off at noon Central time.