Brandon Ingram scored 30 points and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the depleted Los Angeles Clippers 105-101 in a play-in Friday night and earn the West’s No. 8 seed for the playoffs.
The Clippers were dealt a huge blow earlier in the day when Paul George entered the league’s health and safety protocols. They’d already been without Kawhi Leonard all season while he rehabbed an ACL injury. He watched from the bench early in the game.
CJ McCollum added 19 points for New Orleans, which will play No. 1 seed Phoenix in the first round. Game 1 is Sunday in the desert.
THREE BALL FOR CJ !! <a href=”https://t.co/G8j0ZZJUsY”>pic.twitter.com/G8j0ZZJUsY</a>
Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson each had 27 points for the Clippers.
The Pelicans shot 57 per cent in the first half and were better on the boards, in the paint and off the bench. They led by 16 in the second quarter before the Clippers cut their deficit to 56-46 at halftime.
The Clippers roared back in the third, outscoring the Pelicans 38-18. They opened with a 20-2 run that had the crowd on its feet. Jackson scored 10 points and Morris added six in the spurt.
Ingram scored five of the Pelicans’ final 12 points to send them into the fourth trailing 84-74.
That’s when New Orleans staged a rally of its own.
After the Clippers scored to go up by 13 points, the Pelicans ran off 11 straight points and then McCollum hit a three-pointer to tie it, 88-all.
Rookie Trey Murphy hit his second three-pointer of the quarter for another tie at 94-all.
Trey for 3!<br><br>Trey Murphy TIES IT UP for the <a href=”https://twitter.com/PelicansNBA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@PelicansNBA</a><br><br>4:38 remaining in the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/MetaQuestPlayIn?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MetaQuestPlayIn</a> on TNT <a href=”https://t.co/6vF40LG9Zr”>pic.twitter.com/6vF40LG9Zr</a>
That sparked a 10-0 run that gave the Pelicans a 101-94 lead, capped by Murphy’s three-pointer that bounced on the rim and went in.
The Clippers twice closed within two in the final 1:17, but they missed two of four free throws and Jackson and Morris missed shots down the stretch to see their season slip away.
The Clippers, who made the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history last year, also were missing Luke Kennard. The league’s three-point percentage leader didn’t play because of a sore right hamstring that kept him out of the loss at Minnesota on Tuesday in the team’s first play-in game.
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Young’s 32-point 2nd-half effort leads Hawks past Cavs
Trae Young scored 32 of his 38 points in the second half and the Atlanta Hawks overcame losing centre Clint Capela to a knee injury to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-101 in the play-in on Friday night and earn the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 playoff seed.
The All-Star guard scored 16 points in third quarter to rally the Hawks from a 10-point halftime deficit, and added another 16 in the fourth to finish off the Cavs, whose inexperience showed throughout the second half.
Bogdan Bogdanovic added 19 points for Atlanta, which will play No. 1 seed Miami in the first round. Game 1 is Sunday in South Florida.
FLOAT GAME CLUTCH <a href=”https://t.co/apVfmomWnA”>pic.twitter.com/apVfmomWnA</a>
The Hawks, who made it to the conference finals a year ago, may have to go forward without Capela. The six-foot-ten centre hyperextended his right knee late in the first half, had to be helped from the floor and couldn’t return.
Lauri Markkanen scored 26 and Darius Garland 21 for the young Cavaliers, whose unexpected season fell just shy of a playoff berth.
Cleveland hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2018, and the Cavs haven’t been to the postseason without LeBron James on their roster since 1998.
As if to add insult to injury, James tweeted an emoji of an ice cube in the closing seconds — a nod to Young — as the Hawks were ending Cleveland’s season.
LOGO TRAE AND HE LET ‘EM KNOW <a href=”https://t.co/qdFmE4k1zn”>pic.twitter.com/qdFmE4k1zn</a>
Lifted by a rowdy, towel-waving crowd in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Cavs were in position to advance and played well in long stretches. However, Cleveland’s offence bogged down in the third quarter, and the Cavs had no answer defensively for Young.
As the final seconds ticked off, Young waved goodbye as the Cleveland crowd thinned out and headed to the exits.
Those who stayed saluted the Cavs, who weren’t expected to get this far after winning just 22 games last season. While they’ve been relegated to lottery picks and losing since James left after a four-year run to the NBA Finals four years ago, the future in Cleveland is bright.
With the season on the line, Cleveland got a huge emotional and defensive lift by the return of All-Star centre Jarrett Allen, who had missed the previous 19 games with a broken finger on his left hand. Allen finished with 11 points.
Ignoring some vulgar chants by Cleveland fans, the dazzling guard made a pair of three-pointers and scored Atlanta’s final 12 points in the quarter as the Hawks closed with a 17-8 run over the final 3:48 to tie it 84-all going into to the final 12 minutes.
Markkanen made four three-pointers and Cleveland hit six shots from long range in the first 12 minutes to open an 11-point lead after one.
Atlanta helped with some sloppy play and committed seven turnovers, four by Young.
But once he started taking care of the ball, and making shots, there was no stopping him.