Pelicans beat Hornets to keep play-in hopes alive
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Eric Bledsoe had 24 points and 11 assists, Jaxson Hayes added 18 points and the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans stayed alive in the race for the play-in tournament with 112-110 come-from-behind victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night.
James Johnson added 17 points and Willy Hernangomez had 16 rebounds for the Pelicans, who pulled within 1 1/2 games of the San Antonio Spurs for the 10th spot in the Western Conference.
Terry Rozier scored a career-high 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting including seven 3-pointers, but it wasn’t enough as Charlotte failed to clinch a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. The Spurs have five games left; the Pelicans four.
The Pelicans won despite playing without Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Steven Adams due to injuries. The Hornets were without Devonte Graham, Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward.
In the second matchup this season between the Ball brothers, LaMelo Ball had 22 points and five assists for Charlotte but missed two key free throws late and had five turnovers. Lonzo Ball had 12 points and six assists.
At one point, LaMelo tried to steal the ball from his older brother and then dived after it in the backcourt, only to be charged with a foul. However, the brothers didn't guard each other most of the game.
With the Hornets trailing by two with two minutes left, LaMelo Ball made a 15-foot floater to the tie it at 107. But Hayes responded with a layup to put the Pelicans back in front. Ball was fouled on the other end, but missed two free throws with 1:29 left.
New Orleans built a 111-107 lead when Hayes scored on a drive through the lane with 12.7 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
Pelicans: Nickeil Alexander-Walker made a lightly contested 58-footer at the buzzer at the end of the first quarter. ... Wes Iwundu was received a technical foul and was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter for arguing a call. ... Bench outscored Charlotte 37-29.
Hornets: Graham sat out due to knee soreness. ... Outrebounded 28-14 in the second half.
Pelicans: Visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night on the second night of a back-to-back.
Hornets: Host the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.
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