Pelicans return to action on road at Clippers

After an unexpected break, the New Orleans Pelicans begin the first of six road contests Wednesday when they face the Los Angeles Clippers.

Monday’s game between the Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks was postponed because the latter didn’t have enough players. Four Mavericks tested positive for COVID-19 and others were unavailable, according to ESPN.com.

“This is the NBA in 2021,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I don’t really have any big reaction to it; it’s just the way it is and it more than likely will not be the last time. You just move on and do what you have to do that day. I know it’s cliche, but in this year, it’s absolutely true — it is literally one day at a time.”

Van Gundy also expressed concern about the virus’ impact in the upcoming days.

“We’re in the middle of a huge surge of it and I just want everyone to be as careful as possible,” Van Gundy said. “That’s my concern.”

The Pelicans lost at home 118-110 to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday their last contest. New Orleans has dropped three straight.

Zion Williamson had 26 points and eight rebounds, Josh Hart scored 19 and Brandon Ingram contributed 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Pelicans, who committed 19 turnovers to cap a 1-4 homestand. J.J. Redick also scored 17.

Ingram and Williamson have been the Pelicans’ top performers this season. Ingram has been particularly solid, averaging 24 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Williamson averages 21.9 points and 8.1 rebounds.

They will encounter a Clippers club coming off a 130-127 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Kawhi Leonard scored 21 of his 35 points in the third quarter — a career-high for points in a quarter — as the Clippers rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit and held on down the stretch.

Leonard made five of his seven 3-pointers in the third. One of them allowed him to top 10,000 points in his career.

“They were in control of the game for almost three quarters and Kawhi decided that he was going to be more aggressive on the offensive end and was able to carry us to a tie ball game going into that fourth quarter,” said Clippers guard Lou Williams, who scored a season-high 21 points, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I think that was the perfect timing when we needed him.”

The Clippers prevailed despite being outshot 61 to 49 percent. Los Angeles converted 20 of 38 3-pointers (52.6 percent) to 18 of 33 (54.5 percent) for Chicago.

“We got out and made turnovers, made plays at the end of that game to push us over that lead, but we’re not where we want to be,” Leonard said, according to the Times. “We want to get better but you’ve got to give Chicago credit, they played a great game.”

Paul George finished with 28 points, hitting five 3-pointers, nine assists and seven rebounds. Marcus Morris Sr. added 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

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