Williamson, Ingram lead the Pelicans past the Kings
Williamson scored 25 points, Ingram added 21, and New Orleans regrouped after losing a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead and beat the Sacramento Kings 117-112 on Wednesday night.
“Both of those guys have been working diligently with the coaching staff,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Just working on chemistry together in the middle of the floor for moments like that.”
Both New Orleans stars made pivotal plays late to put the Pelicans in front for good en route to their second straight victory and fourth in five games.
After Williamson powered through multiple defenders in the paint to spin in a layup off the glass, Ingram stole De'Aaron Fox's pass, broke the other way in transition and pulled up for a mid-range jumper that made it 113-108 with 1:37 left. And in the final minute, Ingram used a screen by Williamson to set up a soaring layup down the lane to make it 115-110.
The Kings needed 15 seconds for Fox to get a shot off that pulled them within 115-112 with just a second left. But by then it was too late.
New Orleans' recent run of good form has followed a five-game skid that ended after a lopsided loss to Dallas on Nov. 12.
“Two Sundays ago, the energy wasn’t there for us,” Williamson said, alluding to a team meeting held after the losing streak.
“We were all sitting here trying to figure out what we needed to do," Williamson continued. “But now, we came together as a team.”
“Their length and athleticism bothered us and Zion was a load,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. "Our guys showed a little bit of fight, and you like that, and hopefully we can bottle that up going forward.”
New Orleans missed 23 of 30 3-point attempts. But they made up for that by outscoring the Kings 62-28 in the paint.
“It says a lot about this team that they can continue to win games when they don’t shoot the ball well from 3," Green said.
The Pelicans began the fourth quarter with a 93-79 lead, but saw that erased in the span of four minutes, during which the Kings went on a 18-4 run.
“We have to be physical before it gets too late," Fox said. “Obviously, trying to play from behind the entire game is not what you want to do.”
“It was really a gutsy performance on our guys’ part,” Green said. "Even when they made their run, we stayed calm. We made some big shots down the stretch.”
Williamson scored 17 in the first half and his driving layup late in second quarter gave New Orleans its largest lead at 17.
Sasha Vezenkov's 3 cut it to 64-50 at halftime.
Kings: Visit Minnesota on Friday night in West Group C play in the NBA In-Season Tournament.
Pelicans: Visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night in their final West Group B game in the NBA In-Season Tournament.
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