Pelicans charge to a 35-point lead, hold on to beat the slumping 76ers 103-95


PHILADELPHIA — Willie Green was in awe as he watched the New Oreland Pelicans make stops, rebound, play with force and hit 3s in bunches. It was the kind of play over the first 24 minutes on Friday night that’s been a staple of recent romps against undermanned, overwhelmed teams in the East — like the Philadelphia 76ers.

“The first half was just a beautiful display of basketball,” said Green, the third-year coach of the Pelicans.

Now, about that second half.

Left with seemingly little shot at victory down 35 points and the Philly crowd booing, the Sixers instead reversed their wretched play and tried to rally in the fourth quarter. Bucket after bucket made it a thrilling — yet familiar — ending in Philadelphia.

Zion Williamson had 23 points and 12 rebounds and Naji Marshall scored 19 points to lead the Pelicans to a 103-95 win over a 76ers team spiraling without injured All-Stars Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

“A win is a win and we found a way at the end of the game to pull it through,” Pelicans guard Brandon Ingram said. “That’s all that matters.”

The Pelicans held on after a 35-point lead was trimmed to five on a Jeff Dowtin Jr. 3-pointer with 45 seconds left in the game. The 76ers scored 34 points in a hard-charging fourth quarter, but simply ran out of time to complete a comeback.

Tobias Harris had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Sixers, and Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 20.

The Sixers, who entered the game seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, lost for the 15th time in 21 games.

They are 6-11 since Embiid went down on Jan. 30, when Golden State’s Jonathan Kuminga fell on the 7-footer’s left leg. There is still no timetable on Embiid’s return from knee surgery.

The 76ers lost their third straight game without Maxey, who is recovering from a concussion. Maxey lost his balance on a drive Sunday in the third quarter of a game at Dallas and banged his head on another player’s knee. He left the game, but was able to return and finish.

Coach Nick Nurse said Maxey was “doing just fine” following the steps of the NBA concussion protocol and hopeful of returning for Sunday’s game against the Knicks.

Think the 76ers miss their franchise stars? The Sixers scored only 15 points in the first quarter and went nearly three minutes into the second quarter before they scored a point. The 76ers missed 18 of 20 3s in the first half.

“We’re missing Joel, we missed Tyrese the last couple of games,” 76ers guard Kyle Lowry said. “I think we have time to figure it out. We’ve got to get healthy and get to a position where we can compete.”

In addition to their biggest names sitting out, the Sixers have been riddled by injuries — Nic Batum (left foot soreness) was added to a list of absent players that also included Robert Covington (knee) and De’Anthony Melton (back).

“I’m in super-evaluation mode,” Nurse said. “I want to see who can execute what we’re going to need to execute when we get our people back.”

The Pelicans hit five 3s and made a whopping 14 of 20 shots overall in the first quarter to grab a 23-point lead and remain n fifth in the West.

“We did a great job building the lead. …,” Green said. “Don’t give it all away by getting too relaxed. I felt we got a bit relaxed and (Philly) turned it up.”

The Pelicans led 50-20 and had another rout in sight before letting the Sixers get tantalizing close in the waning moments. They tied a franchise record with a 48-point first quarter last Friday in a 27-point win over the Pacers. New Orleans won by 41 points and handed the short-handed Raptors the worst home defeat in franchise history on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: Play Sunday at Atlanta.

76ers: Play Sunday at New York.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba



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