Down three starters in Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe and Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans used a big night from Nickeil Alexander-Walker to make it a contest against the Clippers before falling 111-106.
Despite controlling most of the game, the Clippers never truly pulled away from the Pelicans with Alexander-Walker leading the comeback effort in the second half. Big shots in the fourth quarter from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, though, negated Alexander-Walker’s night.
The sophomore guard led all scorers with 37 points with eight rebounds. Brandon Ingram added 22 points but struggled shooting the ball, going 8-for-19 on the night.
Leonard and George tallied 28 and 27 points, respectively, for the Clippers.
The Good: Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Have yourself a night, NAW. Stepping into the starting lineup for the heavily depleted Pelicans, Alexander-Walker was nothing short of incredible. While he had high-scoring games in his rookie season, they never came in a game and a situation as big as Wednesday's. Alexander-Walker's 37 points were a career-high figure. He was 15-of-23 from the field, 5-of-8 from 3-point territory and also pulled down a career-high eight rebounds. On a night when Ingram struggled with his shot, Alexander-Walker's performance was particularly impactful. And if he hadn't already, Alexander-Walker sealed his spot in the rotation for the rest of the season. Honorable mentions: Kira Lewis
The Bad: Defense on Kawhi and PG
As anticipated, the Pelicans really didn't have much of an answer for either Leonard or George. Before even losing Eric Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball, two of the team's best defenders, as well as Zion Williamson, the team had struggled in the past with defending bigger wings. Early, George was able to get about anything he wanted. Down the stretch, Leonard got about anything he wanted. Wednesday's result could be chalked up to injuries but it'll be an area the team will need to address in the future.
The Lonzo Ball: Watching from the sideline
Lonzo Ball took in Wednesday's game from the sideline after being ruled out on Tuesday with bilateral knee tendinopathy. Stan Van Gundy provided an update on Ball's status for the remainder of the road trip prior to Wednesday's contest.