The Pelicans entered the playoffs with the worst record of anyone in the postseason, in either conference. The Suns entered with the NBA’s best record.
So the Pelicans’ 125-114 road win in Game 2 of their first-round series on Tuesday made perfect sense. Right?
OK, maybe not.
“Good win, let’s go,” Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. told reporters “Let’s go home.”
Nance was acquired in February, along with guard CJ McCollum, from the Trail Blazers. Both are natives of Northeast Ohio and passionate fans of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Nance is from Akron, McCollum from Canton. Each has played a role in helping the Pelicans reach unforeseen heights without injured former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.
Granted, the Suns lost star guard Devin Booker to hamstring tightness, which certainly played a role in the Pelicans’ rally and win. Booker was fantastic in scoring 31 points, before exiting the game in the third quarter. But credit to New Orleans for walking through an open door.
Brandon Ingram was also outstanding, leading the Pelicans with a game-high 37 points. He was acquired in the Anthony Davis trade with the Lakers. He’s the type of player the Lakers would love to have — and the Pelicans are glad they do.
“This is one of his best and it was on a big stage,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “I’m proud of that young man. He works his tail off, he’s a great teammate, high character, high IQ and he put it on display tonight.”
McCollum added 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds — and has pretty much been an All-Star since arriving in New Orleans. He was excellent in Portland. He looks better now.
The series now shifts to New Orleans for Games 3 and 4. No one expects the Pelicans to win. But they have made it a series now, and that already is more than most people expected.