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Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas lead Pelicans to playoffs with win over Kings

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Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas lift Pelicans past Kings, into the playoffs

The New Orleans Pelicans secured their spot in the NBA playoffs with a 105-98 victory over the Sacramento Kings in a play-in tournament elimination game on Friday night. Despite missing Zion Williamson due to a left hamstring strain, Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 24 points, while Jonas Valanciunas contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds. This win propelled the Pelicans to an 8-5 record this season without Williamson in the lineup, showcasing their depth and resilience.

The Pelicans displayed a balanced offensive effort with six players scoring 10 or more points, including key contributions from reserves Larry Nance Jr., Naji Marshall, and Jose Alvarado. Trey Murphy III, starting in place of Williamson, added 16 points to the victory. On the other side, De’Aaron Fox scored 35 points for the Kings, and Domantas Sabonis had 23 points and 14 rebounds.

This game was a crucial test for the Pelicans, who had previously missed opportunities to secure a playoff berth. Despite their earlier setbacks, the Pelicans dominated the Kings and improved to 6-0 against them this season. With this win, the Pelicans will open the playoffs as the eighth seed against top-seeded Oklahoma City.

Although the Kings initially took the lead with a strong start, the Pelicans quickly closed the gap and built a substantial lead in the second quarter. Marshall’s 3-pointer and steal further solidified the Pelicans’ advantage, while Valanciunas and Ingram continued to contribute key plays. The Pelicans’ ability to handle the pressure and pull through in a must-win game showcases their determination and resilience as they head into the playoffs.

This victory not only secured the Pelicans’ spot in the playoffs but also marked their ability to overcome adversity and perform at a high level when it mattered most.

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