CJ McCollum leads Pelicans past Spurs in play-in game

NEW ORLEANS — CJ McCollum scored 27 of his 32 first-half points, Brandon Ingram shook 27 points and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-103 in a Western Conference play-in game Wednesday night.

The Pelicans, who finished ninth in the West after the season started 3-16, will play the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, with the winner getting eighth place and a spot against the top-ranked Phoenix Suns in the first round. New Orleans has beaten Los Angeles in three of four games this season.

The Pelicans looked set for defeat, leading 96-75 with 10:39 to go, but the 10th-ranked Spurs used a 16-1 run over the next 5:25 to cut to 97-91. The Pelicans missed seven consecutive shots during the run.

Ingram hit a pair of soft jumpers in the lane and Jonas Valanciunas added a short jumper to New Orleans, back in the lead, 103-91. Valaciunas had 22 points and 14 rebounds.


Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 23 points. Dejounte Murray had 16 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

After Ingram had to go 5:17 on the bench with three fouls before half-time, McCollum carried the Pelicans offensively. In a 14-4 run through the final 3:36 of the half, McCollum made two 3-pointers and pierced the San Antonio defense for two finger-roll layups on powerful drives into the alley as New Orleans took a 61- 50 lead built up.

McCollum made 10 of his first 12 shots, including 2 of 3 from long range, despite drawing consistent double teams.


Spurs: After eight years as a San Antonio assistant, Becky Hammon has officially assumed her new position as head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. Coach Gregg Popovich said he will miss Hammon’s contributions. “She’s been wonderful for a while,” Popovich said. “I just wish her the best and I just wish she was here.” …G Dejounte Murray had two of his 13 triple-doubles against the Pelicans in the regular season.


Pelicans: While F Zion Williamson missed the entire regular season with a fractured right metatarsal, the former No. 1 overall winner did 360-degree dunks in pregame before slipping back into his street clothes. Coach Willie Green said he doesn’t seek Williamson’s return until early next season.

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Joel McCord

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