Clippers prevent pelicans from reaching the play-in spot | NBA

By JOE REEDY – AP sportswriter

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Marcus Morris Sr. scored 22 points, Ivica Zubac recorded his 22nd double-double of the season with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers kept the New Orleans Pelicans from nabbing a spot in the game. in the tournament with a 119-100 win on Sunday night.

While the Pelicans are still fighting for their play-in spot, the Clippers (39-40) moved up to eighth place with the win.

“I thought we addressed what we needed to do. We took care of business,” said Paul George, who had 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds in his third game for the Clippers. “I reclaimed the team’s first game to become more of a playoff team. Overall, let’s get started.”

Morris made four 3-pointers for the Clippers, who were 21 of 44 from beyond the arc. It’s the first time in franchise history that they’ve reached at least 20 in consecutive games. Los Angeles made 23 3s and set a franchise record for points in a 153-119 win over Milwaukee on Friday night.

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Eight players made a 3-pointer for the Clippers. George led with five while Luke Kennard Jr. also had four.

The Clippers, winners of three of their last four games, made all eight shots from the touchline in the first quarter. According to Sportsradar, it’s the first time since at least 1996 that Los Angeles has had a perfect quarter with seven or more attempts.

“If we touch the color and the guys attack the basket, we’re going to get open 3s and shots if the guys are making the right play. We did that all night,” said coach Tyronn Lue.

CJ McCollum had 19 points and Brandon Ingram added 15 for the Pelicans, who lost their three-game winning streak. New Orleans could have completed a play-in tournament berth with a win after Denver defeated the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the day.

The Pelicans, who started the season 3-16, can secure a play-in berth with a win against Sacramento on Tuesday.

“I’m glad that was tonight so we can have urgency in the next three or four games,” Ingram said.

The Clippers trailed 25-21 before going on a 32-8 run over a nine-minute period to take control. The sprint involved six 3-pointers.

“We just didn’t make the game as hard as we needed it to be,” said Pelicans coach Willie Green. “You can tell they were prepared and they came in and they were maybe half a step ahead of us in terms of the power they played with.”

George had 12 points and four assists in the first quarter but was mostly quiet for the rest of the game. He only played 29 minutes in a game that was largely over by half-time.

The Clippers have three regular season games to go before the play-in tournament. Lue said trying to get George back into his rhythm is a key focus for the week ahead after missing 43 games with an elbow injury.

“Give him the ball so he can play. It will be important that he does that for us later,” said Lue. “Tonight I thought he looked a little tired. It’s the first time I’ve seen him look a little tired to me. Just keep making moves. I think he had seven assists in the first half. Just try to build up his minutes slowly.”

Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. … Herbert Jones had 13 points, while Larry Nance Jr. and Trey Murphy III had 10 each. … Jonas Valanciunas grabbed nine rebounds.

Clippers: Terance Mann also had 15 points. …. Luke Kennard added 14 points. … Isaiah Hartenstein had 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. … Reggie Jackson had 11 points and 10 assists. Zubac reached 300 career blocks at the end of the second quarter.

Pelicans: Complete their four-game outing against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

Clippers: host the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. The Suns have won two of the three encounters.

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