Zion, McCollum lead big 4th quarter in the Pelicans’ 117-106 win, slowing the Clippers’ recent surge

LOS ANGELES (AP) — CJ McCollum scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Zion Williamson added 21 points and 10 assists, and the New Orleans Pelicans slowed the Los Angeles Clippers’ recent roll with a 117-106 victory Wednesday night.

Brandon Ingram had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Pelicans, who opened a four-game road trip with their fourth consecutive victory to match their longest winning streak of the season. Herb Jones and Trey Murphy III added 13 points apiece in a wire-to-wire win over a weary opponent.

“It’s exhilarating to see our team lock in like we did,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Watching the Clippers over the last couple of months, they’ve been one of the best teams in the league, so it was great to see all of our guys lock in from the start. Just a wire-to-wire, high-discipline game.”

James Harden scored 19 points and Norman Powell had 18 for the Clippers, whose four-game winning streak ended in their first game back from an impressive 6-1 road trip during which they moved to the top of the Western Conference standings. Los Angeles was playing its eighth game in 13 days, and New Orleans capitalized.

Kawhi Leonard scored 15 points and Paul George finished with seven after missing his first nine shots as Los Angeles lost for only the sixth time in 32 games since the start of December.

“It’s always difficult coming from a long road trip, but no excuses,” Harden said. “We had plenty of opportunities to win the game. Fatigue a little bit played a part in it. Three games in four nights, coming from Miami, Atlanta, so it is what it is. Now we get some rest and can finish the next few games strong.”

Playing through a bone bruise in his left foot, Williamson scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and finished one shy of his career high in assists, taking over down the stretch with a series of unstoppable drives to the hoop. McCollum’s fifth 3-pointer with 5:15 to play stretched the Pels’ lead to 105-89.

“We had great game plan and discipline tonight,” McCollum said. “When everybody gets touches, especially when the big fella gets touches and is able to figure out when to pass and when to score, it makes the game easier for everybody else. I just did my job.”

Jonas Valanciunas scored eight points for New Orleans before leaving in the second quarter with a bruised right calf.

A brutal schedule forced the Clippers to play at home one day after they returned from the franchise’s final Grammys trip. The Clippers will move out of the downtown arena that hosts the music awards next season and into their new Intuit Dome in Inglewood.

The Clippers’ weariness was obvious in the first quarter while New Orleans rolled to a 17-point lead. George went 0 for 9 in the first half, but hit his first jump shot after halftime.

“Their adjustments were pretty good,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Willie did a good job putting Herb on James and putting Zion on Kawhi, and it worked tonight, and they played well, so give them credit.”

Harden passed Maurice Cheeks (7,392) for 15th place on the NBA’s career assists list during the second quarter.

Jones went to the locker room midway through the first quarter after he ran face-first into Leonard’s shoulder while chasing a pass. Jones returned in the second quarter, but Valanciunas went to the locker room a few minutes later after colliding with Ingram.

Naji Marshall sat out with a back injury for New Orleans.

Clippers center Ivica Zubac returned from a one-game absence with a calf strain.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: At Lakers on Friday.

Clippers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

___

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

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.