In the Western Conference, the teams in last place in the standings are all over the place. Nobody can predict how the fifth through twelfth places will shake out when the regular season ends. This is the reason why each victory and defeat is important.
Today’s match featured a contest between two Western teams holding such positions. The Los Angeles Clippers entered today’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans as the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Their opponent was the New Orleans Pelicans. Conversely, the Pelicans had firmly established themselves in a tie for seventh place with a record of 39-38.
At the beginning of the game against the Pelicans, it appeared the Clippers were the only team. They gained significant contributions from the healthy players on their squad, which allowed them to grab an early lead of more than ten points despite not having Paul George and Eric Gordon available.
The Pelicans were aware of the significance of this game and did not underestimate its importance. They began the second quarter by picking up their play and playing with more of a sense of urgency. They methodically whittled into LA’s advantage and transformed the game into a close contest that went back and forth between the two teams, with Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum leading the way. The Clippers were simply out of gas when it came down to it. After starting the fourth quarter on the run kicked off by consecutive baskets scored by Ingram, the Pelicans could pull away from the competition and win by a comfortable margin.
The New Orleans Pelicans were able to pull off the monumental victory, which extended their advantage over the Los Angeles Lakers to 7.5 games, giving them exclusive possession of the first place. They are now only a half-game behind the Clippers, who are now in sixth place due to their loss caused by their opponent’s victory. The Pelicans are dangling precariously close to securing a spot in the Western Conference playoffs as a wild-card team.
On a typical day, Luka Doncic’s near triple-double stat line of 42 points, ten rebounds, and eight assists would be sufficient to earn him Big-time Baller status. Sadly for him, the Dallas Mavericks dropped yet another game, which knocked them even further out of the running for a playoff spot.
The real Big-time Baller for today was Doncic’s opponent, Jimmy Butler, who led the Miami Heat to a victory and was Doncic’s main competition. Butler, who was filling in for Bam Adebayo, did everything he could to help the Heat win despite not having him on the court. He shot the ball at a 75 percent clip and finished with 35 points while dishing out 12 assists.
The Heat have already won back-to-back games after suffering their longest losing run of the season (three), and they are currently only 1.5 games behind the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.