Devonte’ Graham was back in uniform, Willy Hernangomez was back in the rotation for a second straight game and Brandon Ingram was back to looking like his old self. Add it up, and the result was New Orleans’ most impressive victory of the young season.
The Pelicans wrapped up a two-game homestand by pouncing on the Wizards, scoring 36 points in each of the first two quarters to build a 72-50 lead. Washington entered Wednesday as the Eastern Conference’s fourth-best team, but never led as New Orleans notched its third home win in its last four outings.
Returning from a three-game absence, Graham helped set the tone with a dozen first-half points, while Hernangomez delivered double-digit scoring off the bench again. Ingram rang up 26 points and was 7/8 from the foul line, after a few quiet games scoring-wise.
“Today was a great job by the team, a great win at home,” Hernangomez said on postgame radio. “Now it’s time to celebrate Thanksgiving.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Josh Hart banked in a shot from halfcourt at the third-quarter buzzer and was fouled from behind as he released the ball. Hart’s highly improbable four-point play was even more evidence that this was going to be New Orleans’ night, stretching the lead for the hosts from 18 to 22.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Impossible to pick only one Pelican on a night when six different players cracked double digits in scoring, the team shot well from the field and especially three-point range, and an aggressive defensive forced Washington into a bushel of turnovers (19).
BY THE NUMBERS
117: Previous season high for New Orleans in scoring. The Pelicans’ most points in a win this season had been 112 against Memphis.
12/29: Pelicans three-point shooting. Nine different players connected at least once, including Hernangomez draining his first trey attempt of the season, to a jubilant reaction by his teammates.
68: Total free throws shot by the two teams, a rarity this season for a game to have that many trips to the charity stripe.
REVISITING FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME
New Orleans still allowed too many offensive boards (13), but it was a big improvement from the 21 snared by Minnesota two nights earlier.
BENCH HOLDING ITS OWN
Big plus for New Orleans. The second unit outperformed Washington’s backups, in what was an upset based on season statistics for the two teams.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Absolutely stellar defensive job by New Orleans’ point guards on Washington’s Spencer Dinwiddie, who managed only 11 points on 2/8 shooting Wednesday. During the Nov. 15 matchup in D.C., Dinwiddie burned the Pelicans with 27 points and a second-half barrage of buckets.
If Golden State, Phoenix and Utah have emerged as the top tier of the West early in the regular season, which other team has the best chance to earn a top-four seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs? From among four options consisting of teams 4 through 7 in the standings (entering Wednesday), fans believe the LA Clippers have the best shot (41 percent of votes), followed closely by Dallas (36 percent). Those squads met in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, with the Clips prevailing in seven games. Memphis picked up 12 percent of ballots, followed by Portland (10 percent).