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‘He was terrific’: Pelicans’ Jordan Hawkins erupts for second 30-point game

Playing without four key players, including three of their top scorers, rookie Jordan Hawkins stepped up with a career effort to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Hawkins produced a game-high 34 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in the 118-108 victory on the road. He went 11-of-19 from the field, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range, in 36 minutes to lead the Pelicans to their seventh win in nine games on Saturday.

The Pelicans were down Zion Williamson (rest), Brandon Ingram (Achilles), CJ McCollum (ankle) and Trey Murphy III (knee) in the contest. They also got key contributions from Jonas Valanciunas, Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr., who each scored 14 points apiece.

But it was Hawkins who stole the show.

“He was terrific,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “He was locked in from the very start of the game. His game-plan discipline was off the charts. His ability to not only hit shots but to continue to make the right play on both sides of the basketball. He is getting better and better before our eyes. He is making my job extremely difficult.”

Hawkins joined Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren as the only rookies with multiple 30-point games this season. He became the fourth first-year player in franchise history to reach that mark and is the first to do so since Williamson in the 2019-20 season.

He attributed the performance to staying consistent in the gym.

All of the hard work I’ve put in my whole life, just being in the gym all day every day as a professional. The confidence is coming from the preparation. Coach Green talks about it all of the time, so I prepare myself so I get opportunities like these, and I can be ready for it.

Hawkins was a key member of the rotation to start the season while the Pelicans dealt with multiple injuries. He has played sporadically since the start of December, with the roster the healthiest it has been all season long, and even made one appearance in the G League.

The effort further showed that Hawkins can step in and contribute when needed. Given Hawkins’ ability, Green admitted some tough decisions could come regarding lineups and rotations, but the 21-year-old will be waiting for his next opportunity.

“I’m just being a pro at the end of the day,” Hawkins said. “I’m a pro now and carry myself on and off the court like that. At the end of the day, just carrying myself like a pro, knowing my chance will come and taking advantage of my opportunities.”

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire