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All smiles in New Orleans as Pelicans near playoff berth

Jonas Valanciunas and sons during the press conference after the Pelicans' 122-114 victory over the Clippers Saturday night (Aimee Cronan/The Gazebo Gazette)

Returning home after a four-game road trip, the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Los Angeles Clippers 122-114 Saturday night.

With the win, New Orleans is now 40-38 overall and 25-13 at home. The Pelicans have won seven of their last eight games.  

New Orleans All-Star forward Brandon Ingram scored a team-high 36 points, shooting 13 of 22 from the floor and 10 of 11 from the free throw line. He added eight boards, four assists, and one block. This marks Ingram’s tenth consecutive game scoring 22-plus points, which is the second-longest streak in Pelicans’ franchise history.

“I’m extremely proud of all of our guys in the locker room and the character. I’m thankful and I want to thank God for the group we have,” said head coach Willie Green. “There’s been some ups and downs, but this was a big win on our home floor coming back off that trip. So that’s what I’m most proud of.”

After being behind by 10 at the end of the first quarter, New Orleans went on a 17-6 run to find a 55-54 lead in the second quarter. The Pelicans stayed hot and continued to outscore the Clippers, closing the game out 11 of 20 from the field and a perfect 9 of 9 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.

The victory launched New Orleans into Western Conference’s seventh spot and slid Los Angeles from fifth to sixth.

Los Angeles lost its second straight game despite getting 40 points from Kawhi Leonard, who played 41 minutes in New Orleans after being restricted to 18 minutes during a loss at Memphis a night earlier.

The Clippers turned the ball over 13 times leading to 18 points for the Pelicans, while New Orleans only had seven miscues which led to 11 points for Los Angeles.

New Orleans center Jonas Valančiūnas notched his 42nd double-double, scoring 23 points and hauling in 12 boards.  The Pelicans had five players in double digits during Saturday night’s contest.

Next up for the Pelicans will be a Tuesday night matchup against the Sacramento Kings in New Orleans. Sacramento (47-30) clinched their first playoff berth in 17 years earlier this week.

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