CJ McCollum leads Pelicans past Spurs in play-in game

San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III (25) in the first half of an NBA play-in basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Gerald Herbert, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – CJ McCollum scored 27 of his 32 points in the first half, Brandon Ingram shook foul trouble to add 27 points and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-103 on Wednesday night in a Western Conference play-in game.

The Pelicans, who finished ninth in the West after starting the season 3-16, will play at the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, with the winner getting the eighth seed and a spot against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round. New Orleans beat Los Angeles in three of four meetings this season.

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The Pelicans seemed headed to a rout, leading 96-75, with 10:39 left, but the 10th-seeded Spurs used a 16-1 run over the next 5:25 to cut it to 97-91. The Pelicans missed seven consecutive shots during the run.

Ingram a pair of soft jumpers in the lane and Jonas Valanciunas added a short jumper to out New Orleans back on top, 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 went to the bench with three fouls 5:17 before halftime, McCollum carried the Pelicans offensively. In a 14-4 run over the final 3:36 of the half, McCollum made two 3-pointers and pierced the San Antonio defense for two finger-roll layups on strong drives into the lane as New Orleans built a 61-50 lead.

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 officially assumed her new position as head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. Coach Gregg Popovich said he would miss Hammon’s contributions. “She’s been wonderful for a while,” Popovich said. “I just wish her well, 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 pick was doing 360-degree dunks in pregame before sliding back into his street clothes. Coach Willie Green said he was not looking for Williamson to return until the beginning of next season.

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