The Pelicans Got The 8-Seed In The Western Conference With A Win Over The Kings SuperNayr

For the second time in the last six years, the New Orleans Pelicans are on their way to the playoffs. The team played host to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night in the final Play-In Tournament game ahead of the 2024 postseason, and thanks to a smothering defensive effort and an incredibly balanced offensive showing, New Orleans picked up a 105-98 win to secure the 8-seed in the Western Conference.

This game marked the sixth time this year that the Pelicans were able to beat the Kings. This time, it was a testament to the team’s depth, even without Zion Williamson on the court due to a hamstring injury. Six players scored in double-figures, with Brandon Ingram bouncing back from a subpar performance in their last Play-In game to lead the way with 24 points, six rebounds, and six assists.

While Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double and Trey Murphy provided 16 points, the New Orleans bench came up huge. Willie Green primarily used three players — Larry Nance, Naji Marshall, and Jose Alvarado — off the bench, with that trio combining to go for 24 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, six steals, two blocks, and zero turnovers. As a result, those three players led the Pelicans in plus/minus on the night.

As a team, the Pelicans flexed their defensive muscle as Sacramento shot 36-for-88 (40.9 percent) from the field and 11-for-41 (26.8 percent) from three. Although De’Aaron Fox was able put up 35 points on the evening and Domantas Sabonis put up 23, the absences of both Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk were both felt, as Sacramento needed someone who could provide a shot in the arm on offense outside of their two stars.

The win means that the Pelicans will move on to the Western Conference playoffs as the 8-seed, with a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the horizon. The Thunder won the season series, 2-1, and Game 1 of their series is scheduled to tip off at 9:30 p.m. EST on TNT this Sunday.

The big question for the Pelicans going into the series revolves around the status of Williamson, who suffered a hamstring strain during the team’s first Play-In game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The team’s announcement of the injury indicated that Williamson would get re-examined in two weeks, which would fall on May 1, the day of Game 5 if the series goes that long.

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