SACRAMENTO – New Orleans Pelicans coach Willie Green simply could not hide his excitement as he watched his side advance to the semi-finals of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) in-season tournament on Dec 4.

Brandon Ingram was the star of the show as he recorded 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead New Orleans to a 127-117 knockout-round victory over hosts the Sacramento Kings.

Herbert Jones scored 23 points and Jonas Valanciunas added 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out for the third-seeded Pelicans. CJ McCollum had 17 points and Trey Murphy III added 16 points off the bench for the team, who beat Sacramento for the third time this season.

The Pelicans will face either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Phoenix Suns in the semi-finals in Las Vegas on Dec 7. The Lakers and the Suns play their quarter-final matchup on Dec 5 (Dec 6 morning, Singapore time).

“This is the first time we’ve had the in-season tournament. You put a game in front of us that’s meaningful, I don’t care who it is, where it is, we want to win,” said Green.

“That’s the type of heart that we have in that locker room.

“(Ingram) was incredible. He put us on his shoulders and he carried us. He had big shot after big shot. Whenever we needed a big bucket, we put it in his hands. He’s a big-time player.”

De’Aaron Fox scored 30 points and Domantas Sabonis recorded 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the second-seeded Kings. Malik Monk tallied 21 points off the bench, Keegan Murray scored 14 points and Kevin Huerter added 12 for Sacramento.

The Kings went 4-0 while winning West Group C before succumbing to the Pelicans. New Orleans won West Group B with a 3-1 mark.

The Pelicans shot 54 per cent from the field and made 14 of 31 (45.2 per cent) shots from three-point range. Zion Williamson had 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals for New Orleans.

Sacramento made 44.7 per cent of their shots, including 14 of 41 (34.1 per cent) from behind the arc.

“High-intensity game. Fun to be a part of,” Green added.

“I think the guys just relish these type of moments. It’s experience for us, more than anything. We can lean on these experiences when we start to get down the stretch, when we face adversity, things like that. We love these moments.”



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