On a night when some of New Orleans’ first-year pros figured to play expanded minutes and contribute more meaningfully, two members of the team’s large Duke University contingent led the way, albeit in a losing effort. After playing sparingly in Orlando, backup center Jahlil Okafor was a tough paint assignment all game for Sacramento, finishing with 21 points on 9/11 shooting from the field. Reserve guard Frank Jackson – another former Blue Devil – tallied his most points (18) since Jan. 11 at Boston, when he notched 22.
“Jahlil played great,” fifth-year head coach Alvin Gentry said. “Frank did a good job. I thought everybody that went in had their moments.”
New Orleans will close its 2019-20 regular season Thursday vs. Orlando.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Sacramento grabbed consecutive offensive rebounds, capped by a putback score to make it 110-101 with 1:46 remaining. New Orleans pulled within two possessions of the Kings midway through the fourth period, but then went through a dry spell, unable to cut further into the deficit.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
In addition to Okafor’s and Jackson’s strong performances, point guard Lonzo Ball started quickly with 10 first-quarter points and turned in his best game of the NBA restart. Ball scored 16 points in 29 minutes, highlighted by 4/6 three-point shooting.
“The big thing is, I thought Lonzo played well and he was almost back to where he was before we had the hiatus,” Gentry said, alluding to how well Ball was performing in March when the league shut down. “That was really important for us.”
BY THE NUMBERS
19: New Orleans turnovers. A problem throughout the trip to Orlando, the miscues were particularly costly in Tuesday’s second half. “I will say this – most of the turnovers we had in the third quarter were guys trying to make the right play,” Gentry said. “It’s just a matter of them not being out there (on the court) night in and night out, so the timing was just a little bit off.”
62: Pelicans points in the paint, with Okafor using his quickness and low-post moves to frequently score around the basket.