Valanciunas scores 33 points, Pelicans beat Pistons 116-110
Published Friday, January 13, 2023 | 11:37 p.m
Updated 1 hour, 51 minutes ago
DETROIT (AP) – Jonas Valanciunas scored 13 of his 33 points in the first quarter and the New Orleans Pelicans held on to beat the Detroit Pistons 116-110 on Friday night.
“JV had a monster game,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “He dominated in the post and he dominated on the boards and we needed every point and every rebound.”
New Orleans’ CJ McCollum and Trey Murphy III each had 19 points and Naji Marshall added 17. The Pelicans played without a trio of injured players: Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones.
“For our team to be really successful, everybody has to eat,” Murphy said.
With key players out of the lineup, the Pelicans like Murphy are benefiting from increased roles.
“It helps with the growth of all our guys,” Green said. “The ability to get meaningful minutes pays dividends.”
Detroit is also missing Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren, Marvin Bagley III and Cade Cunningham.
“We started with five centers and now we’re down to one,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 14 of his 22 points in the first quarter and made a jumper with 3:17 left to pull the Pistons within three points.
Detroit was called for a second delay of game violation after a timeout, giving the Pelicans a free throw that Murphy made.
“These things are so subjective,” Casey said. “It was a tough call. I’ll save my money.”
Moments later, Valanciunas hit a shot in the lane to give them a six-point lead.
Saddiq Bey scored 20 points for Detroit, Jaden Ivey had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists, reserve Hamidou Diallo had a season-high 19 points before fouling out and Killian Hayes had 17 points.
The 7-foot-7 Valanciunas took advantage of Detroit’s thin, short frontcourt, making 12 of 15 shots and grabbing 16 rebounds.
“Valanciunas is a different animal,” said Casey, who coached the Lithuanian center a decade ago with the Toronto Raptors. “I’ve known him since he was a puppy and he’s a little short.”
Pelicans: Williamson, who is out with a right hamstring strain, has missed 14 games this season and has played in 29 games. He signed a five-year, $193 million extension that has the potential to be worth as much as $231 million after missing last season with a foot injury and being limited to 85 games over his first two seasons. … Ingram (toe) and Jones (back) were also out of the starting lineup. … New Orleans improved to 7-4 without Williamson and Ingram in the lineup.
Pistons: Stewart (shoulder) ruled out after team shootout. .. Cunningham played in his first game since foot surgery last month.
New Orleans has scored at least 100 points in 31 straight games, the longest active streak in the league.
Green is from Detroit and played for Detroit Mercy before playing for five NBA teams.
“I’m grateful to have grown up in Detroit and all the lessons I’ve learned from so many different people here,” he said.
Pelicans: At Cleveland on Monday.
Pistons: Host New York on Sunday.
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