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Entergy postgame wrap: Pelicans 118, Wizards 107

After a sluggish first half, New Orleans cranked up its defensive intensity to such a degree Friday that it nearly forced Washington into both a 24-second violation and a backcourt violation on the same third-quarter possession. That type of relentlessness – the Pelicans also forced a shot-clock violation on a different possession in the period – helped completely change the game. New Orleans went on to post a vital win, keeping its mathematical playoff hopes alive, bouncing back from Thursday’s high-scoring defeat to Sacramento.

New Orleans remained 2.5 games behind eighth-place Memphis, after both teams prevailed Friday. The Pelicans are 1.5 games back of No. 9 Portland. They need to go 3-0 in the rest of seeding games and get help in other games on the scoreboard to have a chance to qualify for the play-in round.


Derrick Favors doubled his game point total in rapid fashion, scoring a layup in the paint and tipping in a rebound to give New Orleans a 16-point lead with seven-plus minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Pelicans rode a barrage of three-pointers in the second half to gain a double-digit lead, then Favors stretched out the edge with some hard work in the paint.


Instead of an individual Pelican, give the honors to the five-man lineup of Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Frank Jackson, Nicolo Melli and Josh Hart, a group that gave New Orleans a major injection of energy and aggressiveness in the second half. Redick and Melli totaled five treys in the third quarter, which New Orleans won by a 37-25 margin, turning a two-point halftime deficit into a 10-point lead.

Melli had struggled with his shot in Orlando, but went 4/5, scoring 10 points. Jackson provided 13 points in just 20 minutes. More importantly, New Orleans was plus-30 with Jackson on the court.

“We just needed a little bit of energy,” Melli said of the lineup and second-half surge. “Frank and I brought that to the team, and of course Josh, but he always brings that energy. We needed to pick up Washington from their baseline (defensively). I think we did a pretty good job. We needed this win. That was the most important thing, no matter how, no matter what.”


8: New Orleans blocks, led by three apiece from Melli and Lonzo Ball. The Pelicans more swats Friday than in the previous four bubble games combined.

33-39: The best possible record the Pelicans can finish with after what will be a 72-game regular season for them. In order for NOLA to finish ahead of Memphis with that 33-39 mark, the Grizzlies would need to go 0-3 (opponents Toronto, Boston, Milwaukee). In order for NOLA to finish ahead of Portland, the Trail Blazers would need to go 1-3 or worse (opponents Clippers, Philadelphia, Dallas, Brooklyn). NOLA also needs Phoenix to lose once in its remaining four games. If the Pelicans go 3-0 and two of those three teams cooperate, New Orleans will earn a berth in the play-in round, because 3-0 would guarantee placing ahead of other contenders San Antonio and Sacramento.

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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