C.J. McCollum scored a season-high 30 points while reserves Larry Nance Jr. and Jose Alvarado made key contributions to spark New Orleans over Memphis 113-102 in an NBA game Tuesday.
McCollum made 11-of-23 shots from the floor, 7-of-13 from 3-point range, and passed off nine assists as the Pelicans improved to 8-6, just behind Memphis (9-6) in the Western Conference.
“I just tried to be aggressive, take advantage of the opportunities,” said McCollum, who had 22 points in the second half. “I’ve been in the gym a lot trying to work on my fundamentals and my shot discipline and tonight it carried over.
“I’ve been getting a lot of great looks all season, haven’t been knocking them down. I just wanted to focus on the work and it paid off.”
Ja Morant scored a game-high 36 points to lead Memphis, but it was when he went to the bench late in the third quarter, with the Grizzlies leading 86-85, that the Pelicans seized command.
New Orleans went on a 15-5 run with Morant resting and stretched the spurt to 19-5 for a 104-91 edge with 6:12 remaining, Alvarado scoring five in the run and Nance and McCollum each adding four.
Nance finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, and two blocked shots while Alvarado had 12 points and six assists.
The Pelicans, among the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting clubs, went 18-of-38 from beyond the arc, helped by direction from coach Willie Green and confident drives to the hoop to draw in defenders and set up passes to the outside when no shot develops.
“Coach put an emphasis on the early easy pass, making sure guys had a shot ready,” McCollum said. “Guys have been in the gym a lot working on catch and shoot threes and tonight we shot them.
“All the times we force our way into the paint we’ve got to trust our judgment. It’s a credit to the guys making the right pass and making the right play.”
Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. made his season debut after undergoing right foot surgery following the 2022 playoffs, contributing seven points, six rebounds, and five blocked shots.
Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson missed the game with a bruised right foot.
The Grizzlies said Tuesday they will be without guard Desmond Bane for two to three weeks with a sprained right big toe. Bane is averaging career highs of 24.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists a game with career-best shooting percentages from the floor and 3-point range.
Mavericks edge Clippers
At Dallas, Luka Doncic had game highs of 35 points and 11 rebounds to spark the host Mavericks over the Los Angeles Clippers 103-101.
Dorian Finney-Smith’s 3-pointer lifted Dallas level at 93-93 with 2:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. Then Dwight Powell stole the ball and set up Reggie Bullock’s 3-pointer that put the Mavericks ahead 96-93 with 2:02 remaining.
Bullock added another 3-pointer after a Clippers turnover to give Dallas a 99-93 lead with 91 seconds to play.
Nicolas Batum answered with a 3-pointer for the Clippers and Paul George added a layup to lift the visitors within 99-98 with 51 seconds remaining.
Doncic sank a 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining to stretch the Dallas lead to 102-98. George answered on a layup with 18 seconds to play and Bullock made only 1-of-2 free throws with 7.3 seconds to play to make it 103-100 as the Clippers looked for a 3-pointer to equalize.
Instead, the Mavs fouled Batum and he made a free throw then missed another, but Dallas grabbed the rebound and ran out the final seconds to secure the victory.
George led the Clippers with 23 points and Batum had 22 while Finney-Smith added 21 for Dallas.