The New Orleans Pelicans entered Wednesday night’s matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies needing to win in order to hold onto the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. As the NBA regular season is coming to a close, the Pelicans sat a half-game ahead of the Denver Nuggets for 8th place.
The Pelicans won the opening tip and got out to a hot start, leading the Grizzlies 10-0 to start the game. Anthony Davis provided early offense for the Pelicans, scoring 14 points in the first half and finishing with 21 points at halftime.
With 3:49 left to go in the second quarter, Pelican Ian Clark appeared to be injured on a contested fast break lay-up. Clark came into the game averaging 11.3 points over his last 17 games. During those last 17 games, he had recorded nine double-digit scoring performances, and seven of those performances had come in his last 12 outings. Clark did not return to the game after being injured.
On multiple occasions, the Grizzlies managed to cut the Pelicans lead to just three points, but hot shooting from Pelicans guard E’Twaun Moore never allowed for Memphis to take the lead. Moore shot 11 of 16 from the floor and 7 of 10 from three-point land to finish with 30 points. Moore’s seven three-pointers were the most in a single game by a Pelicans player during this season.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Pelicans had never trailed and outscored the Grizzlies 123-95 to pick up their 44th victory of the season. Along with Moore’s 30 points, Anthony Davis finished with 28 and Nikola Mirotic had 25 to lead the way for New Orleans. With the Nuggets not playing last night, the Pelicans moved to a full game ahead of Denver for the final playoff spot in the West with only four games remaining in the regular season.
After the game, Ian Clark was seen walking out of the stadium on his own power, with only a wrap around his ankle. When asked about the details Clark’s injury, Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry said, “right ankle sprain, MRI tomorrow, day-to-day.”
The Pelicans will now embark on their final road trip of the regular season; a three-game west coast swing with matchups against Phoenix, Golden State, and the L.A. Clippers before returning home for their regular season against San Antonio.