What else can you say after the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Los Angeles Clippers for the second time this season? This time, claiming a 120-103 victory to sweep the home portion of a 2-1 series win.
With the 17-point margin of victory, the Pelicans outscored L.A. by 37 points in this pair of games. New Orleans led this one by as many as 25 points before the starters sat for the evening.
The Pelicans took this game doing the things that they don’t do on a consistent basis; play defense, play with purpose, and get strong offense from people not named Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram.
Williamson was efficient and effective, with 23 points on 8-11 shooting. Ingram set a tone in the first half and finished the night with 17 of his own.
Typically, 40 points from that duo wouldn’t be enough to lead the Pelicans past a team competing for the top seed in the Western Conference.
But against the Clippers, the rest of the first unit scored 48 points.
Willy Hernangomez started in place of Steven Adams and posted his seventh double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Hernangomez battled and beat Ivica Zubac, helping to hold the opposing center to four points and six rebounds. His energy and physicality were key to the Pels dominating the paint.
Lonzo Ball had his best shooting night in a while and flirted with a triple-double over 38 strong minutes on both ends of the court.
He and and Naji Marshall frustrated Paul George, who came into the game averaging 33 points per game over his last eight. George ended the game with nine points on 3-11 shooting and turned it over four times.
Lonzo’s vision in the half court created both scoring chances from the floor and the line. Finally, Ball knocked down a trio of triples on his way to 18 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists.
Eric Bledsoe had a game that was almost comically unlike what Pelicans fans have observed for the majority of the season. Bledsoe was in passing lanes, snatching four steals. After one unforced turnover early, he took care of the basketball. He even carried the offense for a short stretch. His 18 points tied Ball for second-best on the team.
And off the bench, Wenyen Gabriel added a season-high 10 points to give New Orleans six players in double figures.
From long range, the Pelicans had one of their best games of the season, making 15 of their 29 three-point attempts (51.7 pct.).
But as much as the offensive production was good to see, the defense forced many to rub their eyes in disbelief.
Though they entered the game as the best three-point shooting team in the NBA, New Orleans deflated the Clippers’ sails on Monday.
For just the 13th time this season, the Pelicans kept an opponent under 32 point shooting on threes. They improved their record to 10-3 when they’ve done so.
The Clippers’ starting lineup tallied 54 points with only seven 3-pointers made in 22 attempts.
New Orleans won must of the hustle stats, with 13 steals leading to a 23-7 advantage in fast break points.
It was a good night for the Pelicans.
They’ve had a few of those this season.
Disappointingly, they haven’t come frequently enough to prove that this is anything more than a team that can be both fantastically exciting and ridiculously inept.
Whether or not this win “means something” remains to be seen. The next opportunity to prove that it does comes Wednesay in Denver against the Nuggets.