After trailing by 10 points entering the fourth quarter of Friday night’s Western Conference play-in game, the Pelicans used a 31–14 run in the final 10:30 of regulation to defeat the Clippers 105–101 and advance to the playoffs.
Following a closely contested first half in Los Angeles, the second half saw massive scoring swings in both directions.
The Pelicans led the Clippers 56–46 at halftime before being outscored by 20 points in the third quarter, leaving them trailing by ten going into the fourth.
But the Pelicans never panicked thanks to Brandon Ingram’s scoring prowess, who scored a game-high 30 points on 14-of-21 shooting to lead the Pelicans to a playoff berth.
Off the bench, rookie guard Trey Murphy III and forward Larry Nance Jr. each scored 14 points to help New Orleans take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson led the Clippers with 27 points each, while Robert Covington and Norman Powell scored 14 and 17 points, respectively, in defeat.
The Clippers made a valiant effort despite being plagued by injuries to their stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the majority of the season. Leonard missed the entire season while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in last year’s Western Conference Semifinals.
George was sidelined for the majority of the season after tearing a ligament in his elbow. He returned to the court late in the season, but he was unable to play on Friday night after testing positive for COVID-19.
New Orleans will now advance to the playoffs, where it will face No. 1 seed Phoenix in Round 1.