Clippers vs Pelicans score, takeaway: Brandon Ingram leads New Orleans to win over LA to clinch No. 8 seed

The New Orleans Pelicans are heading to the NBA playoffs after beating the Los Angeles Clippers, 105-101, on Friday night and will now face the Phoenix Suns in Game 1/8 of the Western Conference.

Despite being without the services of Paul George, who was ineligible to play in the game after entering league health and safety protocols, the Clippers were able to make a run after taking double-digit behind Brandon Ingram and the Pelicans. . In the end, however, that wasn’t enough to get the job done as New Orleans eventually came out on top. With the win, the Pelicans will next face the Suns on Sunday night with the first tip scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.

With the loss, the Clippers see their season end disappointingly given the expectations they had after adding George and Kawhi Leonard to their roster.

Here are three key points of the game:

1.Ingram book

About 90 seconds into the game, Brandon Ingram stopped for a midrange jumper to give the Pelicans their first points of the game. A few possessions later, he did it again. And then again, and again and again. He had 16 points in the first quarter alone, en route to a performance of 30 points, six rebounds and six assists that was one of the best of his young career.

The second overall pick in 2016, Ingram never played in a playoff game and entered the play-in tournament determined to change that fact.

“Man, that’s wonderful,” Ingram said. “Just to have a chance to be in the playoffs this year. I’ve never had a winning record, I’ve never been in the playoffs. To have the chance to show my talent on the biggest stage, c ‘is wonderful.”

For much of the second half, it looked like Ingram and the Pelicans might not make it. They blew a 16-point lead and Ingram grew cold with the rest of the team. But after being choked out by Nic Batum during stretches, Ingram finally figured things out in the fourth. He scored seven of his 30 points in the frame and had huge field goals as the Pelicans fought their way back.

It wasn’t the easiest season for Ingram, as injuries limited him to 55 games and he had to shoulder much of the offensive load without Zion Williamson playing. But he’s healthy now, and when the season was on the line he delivered in a major way.

“Brandon Ingram is the truth,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said. “He just brought it. He had that look in his eye from the moment we got on the plane, to the shooting. He’s been locked up. He’s been waiting for this moment, for this type of moment. His preparation is off the charts. This summer he’s been going six to seven hours a day. He believes in his teammates. He’s everything you want and more in a player and a person.”

2. The play-in tournament wins

When the NBA first decided to test the bubble play-in tournament in 2020, no one knew if it would be a short experiment or the start of a new post-season era. . After this week, there’s no more guessing. The play-in tournament is awesome and it’s here to stay.

He will continue to have his critics because of scenarios like this, where the Clippers lost Paul George for one game and were then knocked out of the playoffs by a team that finished six games behind them in the standings. To be honest, it’s not an unreasonable position, but it won’t be enough to influence the league.

The play-in tournament enhances the regular season by adding extra prominence to games that didn’t make sense for so long, and the revenue that extra nationally televised games bring is not insignificant. Most important of all, however, the basketball itself provides excellent drama. These win-win games are extremely rare in the NBA, and we now have a full week of them. You can see how much winning these games means to players, and there’s nothing better than emotional high-stakes basketball.

Just listen to this speech by Willie Green:

Friday night’s game was a perfect example. If the NBA wants to make the case for the play-in tournament, they should just replay this game on a loop. Or even just the second half, which was one of the best 24 minutes of basketball we’ve seen all season. Both teams made double-digit comebacks after the break, as the game played out until the final seconds before the Pelicans pulled it out.

3. The pelican shoal is gaining momentum

If all you did was check the final game stats, you’ll probably be skimming over the bench points section which shows the Pelicans outscoring the Clippers 37-33 in this category. On paper, that’s such a small statistical difference that it doesn’t seem noticeable. In practice, however, the Pelicans bench made the difference in the game, as they grabbed the stretch.

Larry Nance Jr., Trey Murphy III and Jose Alvarado made up big plays time and time again to mark the Pelicans’ comeback in the fourth quarter and ensure they got the win. Nance and Murphy both played most of the fourth quarter and had 13 points, nine rebounds and three assists in the frame. Alvarado, meanwhile, had just two rebounds and one assist on the stat sheet, but his bustle plays were crucial in the turnaround.

After the Clippers’ small-ball approach stunned the Pelicans in the third quarter, Willie Green responded by also going small and playing Nance down the center of the stretch. It turned out to be a brilliant move. Nance feasted on the glass, played solid defense and found timely buckets.

As for Murphy, he did exactly what the team hoped for when they drafted him in the first round last year: turn off the lights. He came on with three huge triples in the fourth, including one to tie the game with 4:40 remaining, and another to put the Pels ahead seven and essentially seal the game with 2:10 remaining.