Anthony Davis scored 28 points, Nikola Mirotic had a double-double and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Los Angeles Clippers 113-100 on Monday night to clinch their first playoff berth in three years.
The Pelicans shot 51 per cent from the field and 56 per cent from 3-point range in the first half. The Clippers fought back from an 11-point deficit to lead 47-45 before New Orleans closed on a 13-2 run to lead 59-49 at the break.
Their scoring binge continued into the third, and when it was over — a 33-6 spurt over both halves — they led 79-53. Davis had nine points, Mirotic eight and E’Twaun Moore seven.
“Anthony has taken this team and put it on his back,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “If we could have had a better record his name would definitely be in the MVP conversation.”
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They are one of five teams in the mix for the No. 4 seed in the wild West, and a win against the Spurs in their regular season finale would give the Pelicans home-court advantage.
“We know we’re not done,” Davis said after scoring 28 points in a 113-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. “It wasn’t just our goal to get here, but to make some noise.”
The Clippers were playing only for pride after they were eliminated from the playoff race by Denver on Saturday. But the Pelicans were playing to secure a postseason spot in the topsy-turvy Western Conference, which New Orleans earned with its fourth consecutive victory.
“They are going to be dangerous,” Doc Rivers said. “They have a lot of players who can play.”
“Rondo is their key guy because he kind of puts everybody in their place, where they are supposed to be offensively,” Doc Rivers said. “Anthony Davis is their key guy. But after that I think Rondo sets their table for them offensively.”
In 2015, New Orleans was swept by the Warriors in four games in the first round of the playoffs.
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