Pels Beat The Denver Nuggets: 11/17
The Pelicans are heading into the weekend on a high note, having solidified two fantastic home court wins this past week over the top two teams in the West as part of the inaugural In-Season Tournament.
Prior to the game, nerves ran high for fans as the last matchup against Denver on November 6 resulted in a 134-116 loss. Coach Green emphasized the need to "finish quarters better" for a different outcome this time.
Furthermore, the Pels found success with fast-break points and strong defense in their last win against the Dallas Mavericks and knew they had to bring both to the table for this game.
The Pelicans came out fearlessly with Zion Willamson shooting 13 in the first quarter and 21 in the half, while Jonas Valančiūnas put up 17. A 16-point lead at the half had dwindled down into a close game in the fourth. Willamson admits, "I would say I wasn't as aggressive at first in the second half," regarding the slower third quarter.
With four minutes to go, the Nuggets cut the Pels' lead to one point. However, the Pelicans responded with an 8-0 run, with the points solely put up by the incredible duo of Ingram and Williamson. The fourth quarter brought high tension and spellbinding basketball, with every single Smoothie King Center attendee on their feet roaring until the final seconds when the Pelicans secured a 115-110 win.
While the stellar defense of Herb Jones and Dyson Daniels was arguably the cornerstone of this victory, Ingram said the most significant improvements to note is the team "moving the ball better. Defensively, we were re-rebounding the ball better and pushing the pace."
Throughout the game, the Pelicans only had 11 turnovers, another significant improvement for the team.
In response to Jones' defensive presence and overall performance throughout the game, Coach Green commented, "Although it may not show on the scoreboards, it's no coincidence that we've won these two games right when Herb came back (from two games inactive)."
Offensively, the team had great looks, scoring 12 three-pointers overall. Zion sank his first three of the season, while Naji Marshall had 4. The Pelicans outshot the Nuggets by a significant margin, with 52% compared to Denver's 25% shooting from behind the arc.
"All of our guys came in and played with energy. I'm extremely proud of our team, how we took care of home court tonight against the best team in the league. It's a blessing to see our team start to turn the corner a bit," said Coach Green about the team's performance.
2-1 For The In-Season Tournament
With this stellar win, the Pelicans moved to 2-1 in the In-Season Tournament. They will face the LA Clippers on Friday, November 24, for their final In-Season group play game. We'll be cheering our Crescent City team every step of the way.