Herbert Jones is known for his defense, but on Saturday vs. Memphis, the New Orleans rookie turned into a dangerous three-point threat. Josh Hart is known for his rebounding, but on Saturday, he emerged as a floor general, repeatedly finding teammates for open shots.
Jones’ career-high 17 points (including three three-pointers) and Hart’s career-best 11 assists helped fuel New Orleans’ double-digit home victory over the Grizzlies, with both players expanding their games beyond their most notable strengths. Brandon Ingram’s return to the lineup from injury certainly helped immeasurably, but as the Pelicans embark on a difficult two-game Eastern Conference road trip, they’ll need similar teamwide contributions vs. Washington and Miami.
Pelicans head coach Willie Green on Jones’ continued development offensively: “Herb works every morning. He’s usually one of the first guys there, him and Kira (Lewis). Every morning, no matter what. I’m not totally surprised that he can come in and knock down shots like that. Eventually he’ll be a consistent shooter, because his work ethic is just off the charts.” …
Green on Ingram’s return allowing Pelicans teammates to be more comfortable on the court: “It’s what guys like Brandon do for your team. They elevate everyone, in the sense that guys don’t have to do more than what they’re used to doing. Everybody kind of was in their normal positions and played hard and played together.” …
Before the question was even finished, Ingram started smiling Saturday when Hart’s 11-assist performance was brought up postgame. Ingram said of Hart’s dishing, “He’s big on rebounds. I didn’t know he could actually pass the ball! But that’s good. He’s been doing something different every single game. He’s been very big for us these last couple games while I’ve been out.”
WASHINGTON SCOUTING REPORT
Offensive efficiency rank: 17 (107.1)
Defensive efficiency rank: 4 (102.4)
Net rating: 10 (+4.7)
Pace: 17 (98.84)
Streak: Won 4
Go-to guy: It’s normally Bradley Beal (23.3 ppg this season), but the three-time All-Star is out Monday for personal reasons. The Wizards are 2-0 this season when Beal doesn’t play, partly because fellow Washington starting guard Spencer Dinwiddie has totaled 57 points in those games, helping lift the Wizards to victories over Indiana and Orlando. The Colorado product has been a perfect fit in D.C., scoring 20-plus points four times and draining multiple three-pointers in seven of his 11 appearances.
On the rise: After departing both Los Angeles NBA teams over the past two offseasons, Montrezl Harrell is Washington’s second-leading scorer (18.3 ppg) and its second-leading rebounder (9.0 rpg), despite coming off the bench in 10 of his 12 games played. The energetic, 6-foot-7 Louisville product has been one of the NBA’s premier reserves through the first four weeks of 2021-22. He won Sixth Man of the Year in 2019-20 with the Clippers.
PREVIOUS GAME STARTING LINEUPS
NEW ORLEANS (2-12)
Saturday win vs. Memphis
Devonte’ Graham, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas
Notes: This group is 1-1. It also was together for the Oct. 20 opener vs. Philadelphia, but Hart was injured in that game and did not return to the starting five until Oct. 30 vs. New York. … New Orleans will wrap up its two-game season series with Washington on Thanksgiving Eve in the Smoothie King Center.
Saturday win at Orlando
Spencer Dinwiddie, Aaron Holiday, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Daniel Gafford
Notes: This group is 2-0, with wins over Indiana and Orlando sans Beal. … Washington’s primary starting lineup is 5-3 and consists of the same combination but with Beal at shooting guard instead of Holiday. … The Wizards are in first place in the Eastern Conference and are tied with Phoenix (also 9-3) for the NBA’s second-best record.
FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME
Green complimented his team’s ball movement and player movement in Saturday’s win over Memphis, which featured 29 assists by the Pelicans, including 17 in the first half. That was their second-most dimes this season (30 vs. New York on Oct. 30).
New Orleans still ranks 30th in the league in bench scoring (24.9 ppg), but production has been increasing recently, including notching 37 points against Memphis. Washington ranks seventh in bench scoring (38.1), as one of the NBA’s deepest teams.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
It’s uncertain how much they will be matched up one-on-one, but Ingram and Kuzma are very familiar with each other’s games, having been Los Angeles Lakers teammates for two seasons. Ingram is playing his second game after a hip injury hiatus, while Kuzma has been a major factor in several areas for the Wizards.