New Orleans Pelicans vs San Antonio Spurs: CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram star as Spurs are dumped out

CJ McCollum scored 27 of his 32 points in the first half to carry the young Pelicans to a win in their play-in game and they will now face the LA Clippers.

Brandon Ingram in action against San Antonio Spurs. (Image credits: twitter/NBA)
By Sujay Gaurav | Apr 14, 2022 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

New Orleans Pelicans rode on CJ McCollum’s 32 points as they beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-103 on Wednesday night.

CJ McCollum scored 27 of his 32 points in the first half to carry the young Pelicans to a win in their play-in game and they will now face the LA Clippers on Friday night for the eighth playoff seed.

“He was great,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said of McCollum. “He set the tone early. He understood the moment, and it sort of calmed the rest of the guys down. We just got the ball to him and he made play after play, score after score, and then the rest of the guys that just started to feed off CJ.”

McCollum displayed a calming presence to his younger teammates. Rookies Herb Jones, José Alvarado and Trey Murphy played large chunks of the fourth quarter.

“I was just trying to be locked in and aggressive early,” McCollum said. “The playoffs are a lot of antics, a lot of momentum plays, a lot of back and forth. You’ve got to be stable and mentally locked in to withstand a certain level of (chaos). There’s going to be a lot of winning in our future.”

Brandon Ingram dropped 27 points and Jonas Valanciunas scored 22 points with 14 rebounds for the team from New Orleans.

“The three best players for New Orleans all played great, and if that happens, you’re going to lose,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We stayed in it and got back in it, but then we made the same mistakes as we did in the first three quarters, non physical defense.”

“We’re just playing for each other,” Valanciunas said. “When things struggle, we need somebody to slow the game down, which (CJ) does. Next step is on Friday.”

Read more: Kyrie Irving hints at interest to re-sign with Brooklyn Nets

Spurs kids learn a hard lesson

Gregg Popovich whose young Spurs team averages 25 years in age said that the young kids have leant the lesson the hard way.

“It’s the playoffs, and you’ve got to be into people,” Popovich said. “The grunt is important. Ingram scored two in a row right in the middle of the lane with no one even touching him. It’s a great lesson for our guys.”

The Pelicans, who finished ninth in the Western Conference after starting the season 3-16, will play at the Clippers with the winner facing the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round.

Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 23 points. Dejounte Murray had 16 points, but he went just 5 of 19 from the floor while being shadowed by Pelicans rookie defensive stopper Herb Jones.

“You have to take the good and bad and learn from it,” Murray said. “We had guys not shoot well, starting with myself. They were physical. I ain’t making no excuses.”