The short-handed New Orleans Pelicans fell 111-106 to the LA Clippers, but there were plenty of positives to take from the game, most notably the sizzling performance of Canadian guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
With Lonzo Ball (knee) and Eric Bledsoe (eye irritation) sidelined, Alexander-Walker was handed just the second start of his career.. and didn't he make the most of it.
In a season-high 33 minutes, the Toronto, Ontario native poured in a career-high 37 points, a career-high eight rebounds, one assist and one steal on 15-of-23 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 from the 3-point line.
Most points by a Pelican in a game in their first two seasons:- StatMuse (@statmuse) January 14, 2021
40 - Anthony Davis in 2014
37 - Nickeil Alexander-Walker tonight
''Walker really kept them in the game,'' Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. ''He made 3s, layups and in-between layups. He pretty much got everything he wanted.''
With the ball in his hands as the Pelicans' primary offensive threat, the 22-year-old only recorded one turnover and showed plenty of confidence attacking the rim and creating his own shot from beyond the arc.
"My teammates believing in me and just slowing the game down," Alexander-Walker said of his breakout game.
"[Assistant coach] Casey Hill and Beno [Udrih] they've been talking to me about pace coming off the pick and roll, changing pace, slowing it down, reading the big, giving him different looks, so I think early on I tried to let it come to me.
"As the flow of the game went on I was just kind of riding its wave and figuring it out, where to assert myself and everything easier when you compete and I was playing to win and it just started to come."
"Dance Nickeil!"- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 14, 2021
📺: @FOXSportsNOLA pic.twitter.com/LZDEsXgjGt
Brandon Ingram added 22 points, six rebounds, and three assists, while J.J. Redick and Steven Adams chipped in 12 points apiece, while. Rookie Kira Lewis Jr. finished with 10 points.
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 28 points, nine assists and six rebounds, while Paul George recorded 27 points, six assists and six rebounds to move the Clippers to 8-4 on the season.
Brandon Ingram's jumper drew the Pelicans within four, the closest they came in the fourth quarter.
From there, Leonard and George combined to score 16 consecutive points. Leonard's 3-pointer that restored the Clippers' lead to double digits had team owner Steve Ballmer whipping his right arm in the air from his seat next to the basket. Leonard finished with nine assists.
The Pelicans (4-6) have now dropped four-straight games, with tonight's game the first of a six-game road trip. They're back in action on Friday when they face the Los Angeles Lakers.
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