The New Orleans Pelicans didn’t have Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, E’taun Moore, Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill, you get the point. They were outnumbered on paper, but for every Anthony Davis, out comes a Christian Wood (that’s not how it works but he went for a career high.) Julius Randle couldn’t be stopped on his way to a 34 point, 11 rebound performance and Wood came up with 25 points on 11-16 shooting off the bench with nine rebounds to propel the should-be-tanking Pelicans to a victory over the Kings. It went down to the final seconds but Buddy Hield couldn’t tie the game with a three and the Kings lose another game they should’ve taken care of.
It was a De’Aaron Fox vs. Julius Randle start to the first quarter as Fox got to seven points on 3-3 shooting and Randle scored eight on 3-3 shooting as well in the first few minutes. The Pelicans maintained a lead for the majority of the quarter and ended it up 30-26 after Bogdan Bogdanovic missed an off-balance layup at the buzzer. Fox led the Kings with seven points and Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein added six each. Cauley-Stein also grabbed four rebounds. Bogdanovic scored five points on 2-3 shooting off the bench. including a three. Randle led the Pelicans with 10 points on 4-6 shooting.
The Pelicans started the second quarter making their shots and expanded their lead to 39-31. Bogdanovic made some shots to cut into the deficit but Christian Wood scored 11 points off the bench on 5-7 shooting. Cauley-Stein dunked all over Jahlil Okafor and on the following defensive possession fell and almost landed on his neck. He was really, really fortunate not to have hurt himself because it would’ve been really bad. The Pelicans extended their lead again to 56-47 but the Kings cut into it again and made it 64-62 right at the end of the half. Fox with four seconds left drove the full length of the court and finished with a layup that had a lot of contact. He led the Kings with 14 points, Cauley-Stein had 12 points and seven rebounds, Hield scored 11 points (no threes), Bogdanovic scored nine and Marvin Bagley added eight. The Pelicans were led by Randle’s 16 points and Wood’s 13. Sacramento shot 25-45 at the half (54.5%), 4-8 from three and 8-10 at the line.
With Nemanja Bjelica ruled out for the rest of the game with a stomach illness, Bagley got the start in the second half. Hield knocked down some shots and the Kings found themselves with a 79-77 lead with around four minutes remaining. Then Stanley Johnson decided to get hot and made it an 87-79 game, only for the Kings to come right back into it. However, the Pelicans ended on a 6-0 run to end the quarter and led 93-88. Hield led the Kings with 21 points despite being 1-6 from three and Fox had 16 points and nine assists. Randle had 23 points for New Orleans.
Both teams were exchanging buckets for several minutes down the stretch. It was 101-101, then 104-104, 106-106 all the way until the Pelicans took a 119-118 lead with a minute remaining. Randle converted a tough shot over Hield (who shouldn’t have been defending him) and then Hield missed a good look from three the other way. He was struggling from deep all game and the Kings drop to 37-38.
De’Aaron Fox shot 11-22 tonight on his way to 25 points, 12 assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block, but it wasn’t enough.
Buddy Hield had 27 points on 11-21 shooting but was a rough 1-8 from three. He was killing the Pelicans on fastbreak layups but not hitting the threes hurt Sacramento’s chances of winning.
Willie Cauley-Stein had 18 points on 7-9 shooting, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 35 minutes.
Bogdan Bogdanovic had another solid game off the bench with 14 points on 6-10 shooting and 2-2 from deep along with three assists.
The Kings had shooting splits of 50/44/88 but those solid numbers weren’t enough. The Pelicans had splits of 51/32/100.
Each team had 44 rebounds but the Kings had one more assist at 28-27. Each team also had six steals and the Kings had more blocks at 9-6. Each team also had 12 turnovers. This game was super even and that’s not a good thing for the Kings.
Sacramento had more fast break points at 27-17.
The Kings will go to Houston to play the Rockets this Saturday at 3:00 p.m. (PST). The Rockets will be coming off a 112-85 smashing of the Denver Nuggets.