New Orleans bounced back from a 7-23 start this season to get back into the playoff hunt, but in an immensely important game Thursday, the Pelicans’ poor beginning was simply too much to overcome.
Sacramento piled up 49 first-quarter points, the most points a New Orleans opponent has scored in a period in franchise history, setting the tone for a decisive victory.
The Kings led virtually the entire way and were never seriously threatened in the final quarter, handing the Pelicans a costly defeat. New Orleans is back in action Friday vs. Washington, trailing eighth-place Memphis by 2.5 games.
“We don’t have a margin for error,” fifth-year head coach Alvin Gentry said of the Pelicans’ outlook after the loss. “What we have to do is still stay focused on winning every game we can. What happens from there, we’ll have to wait and see.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
De’Aaron Fox drilled a two-point jumper, giving Sacramento its biggest lead of the game at 132-113 with five-plus minutes remaining. The Kings continued to get easy baskets, with Bogdan Bogdanovic rolling in on a subsequent possession to score his career-best 35th point.
In addition to Sacramento’s 49-point first quarter, it notched 40 points in the third period. The 88 combined points by the Kings and Pelicans represented the third-highest scoring first quarter in NBA history.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jrue Holiday helped keep New Orleans within striking distance in the first half, while Zion Williamson made a progressively bigger impact throughout the afternoon. On a day when the Pelicans rarely got defensive stops they needed, the Pelicans’ longest-tenured player and their No. 1 draft pick prevented Sacramento from taking complete control.
Williamson’s 24 total points came on excellent efficiency, as the 20-year-old rookie repeatedly got all the way to the rim or scored in the paint. He made 10 of his 12 attempts from the field. Holiday was also efficient offensively, going 7/10, including 2/4 from three-point range.
BY THE NUMBERS
11/12: Sacramento shooting from the field to open the game. “When a team is shooting like that, there is only so much you can do,” Williamson said afterward, when asked about NOLA’s defensive struggles Thursday.
39-30: Sacramento rebounding advantage, led by six apiece from Harrison Barnes and Alex Len. The Kings also committed nine fewer turnovers than the Pelicans, gaining a major possession edge.
53.8: Kings shooting percentage from the field, including going 16/33 from the three-point arc.