Pels' Final In-Season Tournament Game
The last In-Season Tournament game for the 2023-24 season matched the Pelicans up with the Los Angeles Clippers on the road.
While the Clippers are stacked with top-tier players such as Paul George, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard, the Pelicans headed into their final In-Season Tournament game on some great wins and a history of dominating the Clippers.
The Pelicans were looking to lock in a win to break a streak of three losses on the road and hopefully clinch the In-Season Tournament spot for West Group B.
What started out as a 21-point lead in the first quarter for the Pelicans turned into a 1-point lead at the half, with a score of 56-55 (Pels). The first half showed an active Ingram with 19 points, yet an aggravated Zion due to some foul calls.
The Clippers secured a 6-point lead during the third frame, yet the Pelicans responded consistently and ultimately with a 2-point lead heading into the final quarter.
Although it is inevitable there will be highs and lows throughout the game, that didn't make the fourth quarter any less of a nail-biter with the Clippers edging in on the Pelicans' lead repeatedly. The Pelicans, however, pulled through on some important shots, stops, and rebounds throughout the game which resulted in a 10-point victory and a final score of 116-106.
"The sense of urgency is there; we're starting to put it together for all four quarters of the game," said Coach Green in reference to the problematic shifts in performance and execution throughout single games earlier in the season.
In addition to phenomenal defense, Herb Jones came in clutch with two consecutive three-pointers sunk in the fourth quarter.
"If there's any guy on our team who deserves to be our leader, it's Herb," said Coach Green, "He had some big plays down the stretch of this game that we needed."
And while our guys all showed out, two players stunned Los Angeles this past Friday night. Ingram came out hot and ultimately put up 30 points. Williamson, playing only his second game ever in Los Angeles against the Clippers, scored a season-high of 32 points.
"That was a great test for us, having to close the game the way we did," said Willamson. "And hopefully we can build off that."
Reflecting on the game, Ingram said what he thinks could take the team far this season is "variety. We have a lot of variety on this team from Herb [Jones] on defense, guys like Jose [Alvarado] stepping up, and Jordan [Hawkins] and Trey [Murphy III] shooting threes. We can get to the point where we don't really need to force the game."
In-Season Tournament: What Pels Fans Need to Know
While nobody really knows what the In-Season Tournament means in terms of strategy, significance, etc…what we do know is that we want the Pelicans to win it.
Due to three-peat wins against all but the Rockets, clinching the spot and heading to the knockout rounds in Las Vegas will depend on the outcome of the Rockets' game in Dallas against the Mavericks on Tuesday, November 28, where we will be looking for the Mavericks to take the win.
"The In-Season Tournament could be a great stepping stone for us, in terms of seeing where we stand when competing at a high level with something on the line," said Willamson.
Stay tuned for (hopefully) the knockout rounds of this novel tournament and a long season ahead for New Orleans. Go Pels!