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Pelicans shoot lights out to win third straight, improve to 9-6 with 124-110 victory over Bulls

Trey Murphy not only knocked down 5 of 6 from 3-point range, he also wowed the crowd with several spectacular dunks

NBA: Chicago Bulls at New Orleans Pelicans Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans couldn’t miss from the outside, a far cry from how they performed in Chicago last week.

In sweeping the season series with a 124-110 victory over the Bulls, the Pelicans made the majority of their 3-point looks, knocking down 17 of 33 attempts.

Last Thursday, they made only 3 of 19 from deep.

Whoever once said there’s a lot of different ways to win an NBA game must be a genius.

But jokes aside, every starter made at least two triples, with Trey Murphy’s 5 for 6 from 3-point range shining the brightest. Only on one other occasion in franchise history has a Pelicans starting lineup accomplished such a feat.

The reason for all the makes? The Pelicans sought to attack the inside first, thereby opening up shots from the perimeter.

“Playing with force, playing with a ton of energy and then we just talked about attacking the paint,” Willie Green said. “Whenever we attack the paint, teams are collapsing. Chicago does a great job of trying to keep you out of their paint. So we have opportunities where we have kick-out 3s, especially catch-and-shoot. Anything catch-and-shoot for us, we shoot at a pretty decent level. I thought we did a great job tonight of doing that.”

Murphy also finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, notching the first double-double of his NBA career. However, Smoothie King Center attendees were probably much more impressed by his dunking prowess.

CJ McCollum followed up yesterday’s 30-point performance with another nice outing of 23 points, eight assists and three 3s. As evidenced by making half of his field goals (8-16), McCollum has put his recent shooting slump well in the rear view mirror.

Perhaps the happiest member of the Pelicans, though, was Jonas Valanciunas, who totaled 22 points, seven rebounds and two assists. He hadn’t appeared in more than 20 minutes nor scored in double figures in New Orleans’ previous three games.

Brandon Ingram’s line may not jump off the page, but his 16 points, six rebounds and nine assists was beautiful basketball to watch. He didn’t force anything, and more importantly, seemingly every pass that he threw landed in the shooting pocket of a teammate.

Any professional coach will tell you just how much of a difference it makes to hit a player in his sweet spot.

“It’s important and it makes our offense a lot more potent,” Murphy said. “When he’s such a scoring threat and if he’s able to pass, it opens it up for him in order to drive lanes and get to the basket. Him being such a scoring threat makes it a lot easier for us because they’re packing the paint, they’re trying to stop him. So we get more open shots. So it’s a two-fold thing.”

Herb Jones had 10 points, four rebounds and three assists, and it must be mentioned that he’s made 4 of 5 from 3-point range in the last two games. Prior to that, he was mired in a 2 for 18 slump from deep since the start of the season.

Off the bench, Jose Alvarado had the largest impact, knocking down 6 of 7 from the field for 13 points. Larry Nance had eight, six and three, and in his 19 minutes, Dyson Daniels added four points, four rebounds and two assists.

If you’re a fan of great ball movement and stellar shooting, this game was one not to miss, and good controlled basketball was witnessed often. 30 assists vs 15 turnovers. 21 of 24 from the free throw line. A 26-point lead at one point.

Up next, the Pelicans have the day off before hosting the Boston Celtics on Friday. And then two days after that, the Golden State Warriors will be in town.

The schedule makers may have been unkind for making life difficult on the Pelicans early in the season, but they’ve overcome that hurdle admirably well. The team sits 9-6 in the Western Conference standings and has a chance to finish the home stand 5-1.

And there’s a reasonable expectation of Zion returning in two days’ time.

The arrow is pointing upwards, to say the least.

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.