Lonzo Ball lives as much as its phrases with a rebound efficiency within the New Orleans Pelicans win
NEW ORLEANS – After a difficult loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson said he had received a text message from his point guard Lonzo Ball.
Ball had a 3-of-18 shooting performance in a game that affected the New Orleans game. It was one of the worst shooting nights of his NBA career.
Williamson said Ball said to him, “I’ll be there tomorrow.”
“Those were big words,” said Williamson.
Ball responded to his off-night by finishing his career with 33 points, hitting an 18-foot show jumper to finally put New Orleans in the lead by 25.3, and then knocking down four free throws to raise New Orleans A 108 -103 win against the Warriors on Tuesday night.
It was the second time in three games that Ball had ended his career on time. He set the mark in a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. But between those two 33-point attempts was a bang of a shooting night, something that weighed on him after the last buzzer sounded.
“I just knew I had let my team down and I wasn’t going to do this two nights in a row,” Ball said of sending the text to Williamson. “I know the type of player I am and I believe in myself. I knew I wasn’t going to shoot 3 of 18. I just wanted to let Z know that I’ll be with him tonight.
“I know what I can do on the pitch and I didn’t step on the plate in the last game. I wanted to be there for the boys tonight, especially Zion. He goes out every night and basically gets 30 and 10 for us. It’s pretty unacceptable for me to have the kind of performance I had yesterday, especially this time of year. I wanted to fix it. “
Ball had 11 points and knocked down three of his four 3-point attempts in the first quarter. It was also strong at 12 points in the fourth quarter, the third highest it ever had in the closing stages, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.
All 12 points of his fourth quarter came in the final with 3:18. He hit a pair of 3-pointers to tie the game – at 95 with 3:18 left and at 98 with 2:13 remaining – before hitting the rebounder for the lead. He added four free throws late to improve his season share of the line to 80.0% – a big step for someone who shot 41.7% off there two seasons ago with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“He went up with so much confidence and just knocked out free throws,” said Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy. “He worked on it. And when you work so much on something and get good at it, you will have great confidence.”
Williamson said he had “a lot of respect” for Ball, who sent the text message and came out and backed it up with his play on Tuesday.
“I’m glad he’s my teammate,” said Williamson. “You love it when teammates like that say something like that and can come and show themselves the next day. He just wants to win. That’s what I love about Lonzo. He just wants to win. And he’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
After Ball set up the pelicans two times late, Williamson came up with one of the night’s biggest pieces. Stephen Curry’s 3-point attempt to answer Ball’s shot was missed, and after Williamson stepped up to the rebound, Warriors Guard Mychal Mulder hit the rebound. But Williamson dumped it and got the theft of the courtyard logo and trickled into Draymond Green taking a foul that was seen as the clear route as ball broke off across the court for a layup.
Williamson threw down his two free throws and Ball hit his to extend the lead to six with 14.6 left.
“That loose ball was a winning basketball game,” said Van Gundy. “We talked about that today. In the last seven games that count tonight, we want to focus on winning basketball. We talked about taking care of the ball. Only 12 turnovers tonight. We got over ours talked about defensive engagement. We talked about it. ” to come back, which was much better tonight. We didn’t exactly play pretty basketball, but we did more competitions tonight than we did last night. “
Some of these sweepstakes came without the help of Pelicans striker Brandon Ingram, who suffered a sprain in his left ankle just before half-time. Ingram played until 4:39 in the third quarter before he was finally eliminated.
Van Gundy said the x-rays on Ingram’s ankle were negative but had no further updates.
The win kept the Pelicans alive in the hunt for the play-in tournament in the Western Conference. New Orleans improved to 30-36, two games behind the San Antonio Spurs (31-33). San Antonio owns the tiebreaker over the pelicans after winning the season 2-1.
Both teams have difficult roads the rest of the way. New Orleans has a five-game road trip against the 76ers starting Friday before facing Charlotte, Memphis, Dallas and Golden State. The Pelicans end the season on May 16 against the Lakers in their last home game of the season.
San Antonio has the toughest remaining schedule, with street games up against Utah, Sacramento and Portland ahead of a home game against Milwaukee, followed by two street games against Brooklyn and New York. The Spurs end the season with a home duel against the Phoenix Suns, who may still be fighting for the top seed in the west.