NEW ORLEANS — After a tough loss Monday evening to the Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans ahead Zion Williamson mentioned he obtained a textual content message from his level guard, Lonzo Ball.
Ball was coming off a 3-of-18 taking pictures efficiency in a recreation that had play-in implications for New Orleans. It was one of many worst taking pictures nights of his NBA profession.
Williamson mentioned Ball instructed him: “I will be there tomorrow.”
“These have been massive phrases,” Williamson mentioned.
Ball responded to his off evening by tying his profession excessive with 33 factors, hitting a clutch step-back, 18-foot jumper to place New Orleans forward for good with 25.3 seconds to play and pulling down 4 free throws after that to elevate the Pelicans to a 108-103 win over the Warriors on Tuesday evening.
It was the second time in three video games Ball has hit his profession excessive in factors; he set the mark in a win in opposition to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. However in between these two 33-point efforts was a clunker of a taking pictures evening, one thing that weighed on him after the ultimate buzzer sounded.
“I simply knew I let my group down and I wasn’t gonna try this two nights in a row,” Ball mentioned about sending the textual content to Williamson. “I do know the kind of participant I’m and I imagine in myself. I knew I wasn’t gonna shoot 3-of-18 once more. I simply wished to let Z know I used to be gonna be there with him tonight.
“I do know what I can do on the court docket and I did not step as much as the plate final recreation. I wished to be there for the fellows tonight, particularly Zion. He is going out each evening principally getting 30 and 10 for us. For me to have the kind of efficiency I had yesterday is fairly unacceptable, particularly presently of the yr. I wished to repair it.”
Ball had 11 factors and knocked down three of his 4 3-point makes an attempt within the first quarter. He completed robust, as nicely, with 12 factors within the fourth quarter, the third most he is ever had within the remaining interval, in line with ESPN Stats & Data analysis.
All 12 of his fourth-quarter factors got here within the remaining 3:18. He hit a pair of 3-pointers to tie the sport — at 95 with 3:18 left and at 98 with 2:13 to go — earlier than hitting the step-back jumper for the lead. He added 4 free throws late to enhance his season proportion on the line to 80.0% — a giant step for somebody who shot 41.7% from there simply two seasons in the past whereas with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“He went up there with a lot confidence and simply knocked down free throws,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy mentioned. “He is labored on that. And if you work on one thing that a lot and get good at it, you are going to have nice confidence.”
Williamson mentioned he had “a whole lot of respect” for Ball sending the textual content message and popping out and backing it up along with his play Tuesday.
“I am glad he is my teammate,” Williamson mentioned. “You like to have teammates like that may say stuff like that and are available the subsequent day and present out. He simply needs to win. That is what I really like about Lonzo. He simply needs to win. And he’ll do no matter it takes to win.”
After Ball put the Pelicans up two late, Williamson got here up with one of many greatest performs of the evening. Stephen Curry’s 3-point try to reply Ball’s shot was off beam, and Warriors guard Mychal Mulder got here up with the rebound. However Williamson tipped it away and obtained the steal across the center-court brand and dribbled into Draymond Inexperienced, who took a foul that was deemed clear path, since Ball was breaking away for a layup on the opposite aspect of the court docket.
Williamson knocked down his two free throws, and Ball later hit his, as nicely, to stretch the result in six with 14.6 seconds left.
“That unfastened ball was a profitable basketball play,” Van Gundy mentioned. “That is what we talked about right now. Over these final seven video games, counting tonight, we need to give attention to taking part in profitable basketball. We talked about caring for the ball. Solely 12 turnovers tonight. We talked about our defensive dedication. We talked about getting again, which was quite a bit higher tonight. We did not essentially play fairly basketball, however we made extra profitable performs tonight than we did final evening.”
A few of these profitable performs got here with out the assistance of Pelicans ahead Brandon Ingram, who suffered a left ankle sprain simply earlier than halftime. Ingram performed till the 4:39 mark of the third quarter earlier than exiting for good.
Van Gundy mentioned X-rays on Ingram’s ankle have been adverse however had no additional updates.
The win stored the Pelicans alive within the hunt for the play-in event within the Western Convention. New Orleans improved to 30-36 and sits two video games behind the San Antonio Spurs (31-33). San Antonio owns the tiebreaker over the Pelicans after profitable the season sequence 2-1.
Each groups have tough roads the remainder of the way in which. New Orleans has a five-game highway journey beginning Friday in opposition to the 76ers earlier than going through Charlotte, Memphis, Dallas and Golden State. The Pelicans end the season Could 16 in opposition to the Lakers of their remaining residence recreation of the season.
San Antonio has the hardest remaining schedule with upcoming highway video games in opposition to Utah, Sacramento and Portland earlier than one residence recreation in opposition to Milwaukee adopted by two highway video games in opposition to Brooklyn and New York. The Spurs end the season with a back-to-back at residence in opposition to the Phoenix Suns, who might nonetheless be competing for the highest seed within the West.