Official: Pelicans extend Larry Nance Jr.

The New Orleans Pelicans have signed forward Larry Nance Jr. to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced Monday.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a two-year, $21.6 million contract extension, and Nance’s total deal ties him to the franchise for three years and $31.3 million.

Nance Jr. was acquired by New Orleans in a mid-season trade with the Portland Trail Blazers and appeared in 46 games (11 starts) during the 2021-22 season, averaging 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in 22.6 minutes per game.

The 6-7 forward gave the Pels a spark in the playoffs against the Suns and gave the team some solid minutes. The 29-year-old averaged 9.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per contest in the playoffs.

Drafted 27th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2015 NBA Draft, the seven-year veteran has appeared in 396 games (134 starts) with the L.A. Lakers, Cleveland, Portland, and New Orleans.

Nance Jr. is a great role player, a tremendous defender, and gives New Orleans great depth in their frontcourt.

Pelicans sign Seabron(tw0-way deal), Petty Jr., Plowden

The New Orleans Pelicans have signed guard Dereon Seabron to a two-way contract, the team announced Friday.

Additionally, the Pelicans have also signed guard John Petty Jr. and guard/forward Daeqwon Plowden. According to reports, Petty and Plowden signed Exhibit 10 deals.

Seabron, 6-7, 180, played collegiate seasons at North Carolina State, where he averaged 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 56 games. Seabron is coming off of a redshirt sophomore season in which he started 32 games, averaging 17.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists en route to being named the ACC’s Most Improved Player and earning All-ACC Second Team honors.

Petty Jr., 6-5, 184, appeared in 31 games for the Pelicans’ G League affiliate, the Birmingham Squadron, in 2021-22 in which he averaged 8.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 26.2 minutes per game. Prior to turning pro, Petty Jr. played four seasons at Alabama in which he averaged 11.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 131 games (105 starts), finishing his career with a school-record 311 made three-pointers. In his senior campaign, Petty Jr. averaged 12.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists en route to First Team All-SEC honors. Petty Jr. led the SEC with 77 made threes during the 2020-21 season.

Plowden, 6-6, 215, played five seasons at Bowling Green State (2017-22), averaging 10.5 points and 6.1 rebounds in 25.4 minutes per contest. Plowden finished his college career as BGSU’s all-time leader in games played (154), and is the only player in program history to log at least 1,200 career points, 800 rebounds, and 100 blocks.

Paul on Bridges: ‘He doesn’t miss games, he guards the best players every night’

Coming into Game 5 of their first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Phoenix Suns won two games because of two 19-point fourth quarters from Chris Paul. CP3 got the job done for the Suns in Game 5 as he had 22 points and 11 assists. However, Mikal Bridges was the star of the game.

Bridges, who finished second for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, tied a playoff career-high with 31 points on 12/17 shooting from the field, including 4/4 from downtown, five rebounds, two steals, and four blocks in 47 minutes of action as the Suns defeated the Pelicans 112-97 at Footprint Center to take a 3-2 series lead.

Game 6 is Thursday night in New Orleans.

Bridges did it on both ends of the court. According to StatMuse, the players he guarded were 3/17 from the floor with seven points.

“He doesn’t miss games, he guards the best players every night, and then he has 31,” Paul said.

Bridges, who has never missed an NBA game in four seasons, was ready to keep on playing after the win.

“I’m ready to play tomorrow. I’m teed up, man,” Bridges said. “I’m energized; my teammates keep me going. You got me itching my knee right now because I’m talking about it. I need to calm down, I need to breathe, but I’m just ready, man.”

Deandre Ayton, who had 19 points and nine rebounds, added on Bridges: “The man takes care of his body, and he approaches the game the same way every day; he doesn’t change.”

Without Devin Booker, it’s all hands on deck for the Suns, and Bridges got the job done. The Suns have to end this series in Game 6; Phoenix does not want to be in a position where they have to play a Game 7. The Suns are the better team, and as the better team, they have to put the Pelicans away Thursday night.

Suns will have to play ‘extra games’ to defeat New Orleans

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has sustained a mild right hamstring strain, the team announced Wednesday.

According to the team, an MRI revealed the injury, and there is no timetable for his return.

According to ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski, Booker is expected to miss Games 3 and 4 but could return later in this series.

The injury occurred in the third quarter of Phoenix’s 125-114 loss to the Pelicans in Game 2 of their first-round series. Booker scored all 31 points, including seven threes, in the first half. 

New Orleans led Phoenix 77-74 with 4:35 left in the third when Booker exited with the injury. The Pelicans would outscore the Suns 48-40 the rest of the way and would win 125-114.

The series is tied at 1, and Game 2 is Friday night in New Orleans.

Booker missed seven games with a strained left hamstring injury during the regular season. Phoenix was 8-6 without Booker this season.

Hamstrings can be tricky, but hopefully, this is not an injury that will keep Booker out for an extended period. Phoenix’s only goal is a championship. They went to the NBA Finals last season and have the best record in basketball this season, so anything short of a title would be a disappointment. 

Here’s also the issue, you can’t play “extra games” in the playoffs, and now the Suns will be playing at least an extra game and possibly more in this series. 

It’s next man up for the Suns, so guys like Landry Shamet and Cam Johnson have to step up. New Orleans has the momentum, but Phoenix is still the better team, even without Booker.

However, winning this series has just gotten a little complicated for the Suns, but just like they have all season long, expect the Suns to play well without Booker.

Notes:

Chris Paul had his second consecutive double-double in this series as he finished with 17 points and 14 assists Tuesday night. 

 

Suns’ Ayton on Paul’s performance in Game 1 vs. Pelicans: ‘Man, that is the CP3 Show’

Great players do great things in the playoffs, and Chris Paul is a great player, and Sunday night in Game 1 of Phoenix’s first-round series against the Pelicans, that greatness was on full display.

Phoenix led 53-34 at the break, but the Pelicans outscored the Suns 37-25 in the third quarter and had some momentum going into the fourth, but then, the “CP3 Show” commenced.

The 12-time All-Star scored 19 of his team-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to go along with seven rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals as the Suns defeated the Pelicans 110-99 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

At age 37, Paul became the oldest player to record 30 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. 

“Man, that is the CP3 Show,” Deandre Ayton said postgame. ‘We got a little taste of it.’

“Classic Chris,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. 

With Phoenix leading 80-73, Paul scored or assisted 19 straight points for the Suns to take complete control of the game. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Paul became the fifth player with ten career playoff games of 30 points and 10 assists, joining LeBron James (22), Michael Jordan (15), Jerry West (14), and Oscar Robertson (12)

“It’s just reading the game,” Paul said. “We watch games all day, every day. We got to watch all the games yesterday. We watched the games today. We know in the playoffs, teams aren’t going to lay down.”

Williams had more praise for his point guard.

“He’s not only a great point guard, but he’s a great basketball player,” Williams said.

After making the Finals last season, the goal for the Suns is an NBA title. Barring anything unforeseen, the Pelicans can’t defeat Phoenix. So, in reality, to avoid injuries, the Suns have to sweep this series to play as few games as possible as they look to win an NBA title.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We’re built to win ugly’

The Cleveland Cavaliers had maybe their worst loss of the season when they fell to the Pistons in Detroit Sunday night. Fortunately for the Cavs, they had an opportunity to get right back at it on Monday night at home against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Unfortunately, the Cavs were without their leading scorer Darius Garland(back), but they still got it done. Cleveland defeated the Pelicans 93-90 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

The Cavs(31-20) are 9-2 in their last 11 and have won five straight at home. In addition, they finished the month of January 11-4(most wins in a month since November 2017), while the Pelicans(18-32) have dropped four straight.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over Pelicans.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Brandon Goodwin had a career and game-high 21 points, including three threes off the Cavs’ bench. Goodwin, who started the second half, was recently with the Cleveland Charge, the Cavs’ G League affiliate, and he took full advantage of his opportunity Monday night. 

-Kevin Love was huge off the Cavs’ bench. He had a double-double with 15 points(3/8 3 PT FG) and 11 rebounds. This was Love’s eighth double-double of the season. 

Love made big plays down the stretch. 

With the Pelicans leading 86-84, Love would hit a fadeaway jumper to tie it up at 86 at the 2:54 mark of the fourth. With just over two minutes to go, and the Cavs trailing 88-86, Love would hit another fadeaway shot to tie things up at 88. In addition, with the Cavs trailing 90-88, Love would battle for the rebound that set up a putback dunk by Jarrett Allen to tie things up at 90 with 1:31 left to go.

-Lamar Stevens gave the Cavs a big lift off the bench. He scored 11 points on 5/6 shooting, grabbed four rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks. 

Cavs’ Bench: Cleveland got 52 points from its bench, and they outscored the Pelicans’ bench 52-22. The bench also outscored the Cavs’ starters 52-41. Cleveland’s starters were a combined -15, while the bench was a combined +30. This was the seventh game this season that the Cavs have gotten 50-plus points from their bench. 

Fourth Quarter: The Pelicans had their largest lead of nine(75-66) with just over nine minutes left in the fourth. Cleveland went on a 20-11 run to tie it at 86 late in the fourth. Cleveland shot 56% from the field and outscored the Pelicans 33-24 in the final period.

-Cedi Osman started at point guard for Garland, and he had seven points and a career-high 12 assists. The Cavs needed everybody to step up, and Osman did the job.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Rebounding: Cleveland was outrebounded by their opponent for the second consecutive night. New Orleans had a 51-37 edge on the glass, including 16 second-chance points. The night before, in their loss to the Pistons, Cleveland was outrebounded 48-41 and gave up 20 second-chance points.

-Evan Mobley struggled Monday night. The rookie was 1/7 from the floor and scored four points. He did have five rebounds and three blocks. However, he had a team-low -9 rating. Mobley’s streak of 17 straight games in double figures was snapped Monday night.

-Dean Wade, who started for the injured Lauri Markkanen(ankle), was 0/5 from the floor, all from deep, and finished with zero points in 19 minutes of action.

Bottom Line:

This was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless. We all knew things would be difficult for the Cavs without Garland, but losing to the Pistons and Pelicans on back-to-back nights would have been awful. However, they found a way to get it done.

As we look at the standings in the East, the Cavs(fourth seed) are one game behind the Heat and Bulls for the top spot in the East, so if they keep winning, they’ll keep climbing the standings. 

“The message was, ‘We’re built to win ugly,'” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame.

What’s Next:

The Cavs return to action Wednesday night in Houston against the Rockets.

Best of the Rest:

-Devonte’ Graham led the Pelicans with 20 points; Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and nine rebounds, Josh Hart had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

-Jarrett Allen added 16 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks; Isaac Okoro chipped in with 14 points for Cleveland.

-The Cavs improved to 18-3 when holding teams below 100 points.

Pelicans’ Zion Williamson to rehab away from team

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson will be continuing his rehabilitation away from the team, the Pelicans announced Wednesday.

Williamson  has not played a game this season after recovering from foot surgery in the offseason.

“Since we notified everyone on December 16 of his latest imaging, it was decided then by our medical team to dial his rehab back to only partial weight-bearing activities. He continues along that path,” Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said from a press release . “We also agreed that in order to put Zion in the best position to succeed, he will rehab away from the team at this time so he can focus on the task at hand.”

In November, Williamson was cleared to participate in contact drills, beginning with 1-on-1 workouts and progressively working towards full-team workouts. However, a month later, Williamson had a setback as he needed a biologic injection into the fracture site to stimulate bone healing in his right foot.

“As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult process for me,” Williamson said via a press release from the team. “I know there’s work to be done in my recovery before I can safely return to the court, but I will continue to put in the time necessary so I can get back on the floor with my team and represent Pelicans fans and the city of New Orleans at the highest level. Basketball means everything to me, and I am thankful for the Pelicans organization and everyone who has surrounded me with love and support throughout this journey – my family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans, and everybody who has stood behind me and uplifted me when I needed it most.”

New Orleans is 13-25, and at this point, it might be in their best interest to let the third-year forward sit out the rest of the season.

 

 

 

 

Mavs’ Doncic on loss to Pelicans: ‘I think that game was on me’

What a difference a few days make. On Wednesday night, Dallas shot a team-record 68% from the floor and defeated the Pelicans on the road 139-107. Well, Friday’s game was a much different story.

Dallas(11-10) held the Pelicans(7-18) to only 14 points in the first quarter, but they only had 19 points themselves. The Mavs led by five after one and took a 48-44 lead at the break. However, things fell apart for the Mavericks in the third. New Orleans outscored them 35-20 in the quarter and took a 13-point lead into the fourth. The Pelicans had their largest lead of 18 points in the final period, and they would defeat Dallas 107-91 at American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks have now lost three out of four.

New Orleans was led by Brandon Ingram’s 24 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds; Jonas Valanciunas added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Dallas was without Kristaps Porzingis(knee) and was led by Luka Doncic’s 21 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists, which were all team-highs, but, according to Doncic, this loss was on him.

“I think that game was on me,” Doncic said. “My energy was down, I played very bad, and I just have to be better.”

Dallas went from shooting 68% from the floor to 41% shooting Friday, and Doncic felt the energy was different for the Mavericks.

“Obviously, we had a big percentage last game, but our energy was way different,” he said. “Everything was better. We moved the ball, we ran. Everything was better; that’s why we got all the open shots, points in the paint, all that. And that’s the way we’ve got to play.”

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd added: “I think we can’t take anybody lightly; anybody can be beaten. They went into Utah, beat Utah. They went into L.A. and beat the Clippers. To understand that what happened the game before is over, there’s nothing you can do to change it. This is a different game. We have to understand that, and we have to be grownups about that. We just didn’t do that tonight.”

Dallas is not good enough to take any team lightly, especially without Porzingis. This was a bad loss for sure, but fortunately for the Mavericks, they play again on Saturday as they host the Memphis Grizzlies. However, they will be without Doncic(left ankle soreness),  Porzingis (left knee contusion), and Willie Cauley-Stein (personal reasons), so getting a win might be difficult.

Hardaway Jr. on Doncic: ‘It’s great to have a superstar that can get himself going, and also get his teammates going’

The Dallas Mavericks(11-9) have been struggling of late. Coming into Wednesday’s road game against the Pelicans(6-18), Dallas had lost two straight and five of their last seven, including Monday’s 114-96 home loss to the Cavaliers.

However, they played the lowly Pelicans(6-16) at the right time. Dallas shot a team-record 68.7%, and they shot 79.6% on two-point shots – another new team record (39/49). The 79.6% is the third-best mark in the shot clock era in NBA history.

Dallas was led by Luka Doncic, who recorded his 100th career double-double with 28 points and 14 assists. The two-time All-Star had 22 points and 10 assists in the first half to join Damian Lillard and Trae Young as the only players with multiple 20-point, 10-assist halves since 2018-19.

Doncic had it going on for Dallas, and as we know, he’s the straw that stirs the drink for Dallas; according to Mavs head coach Jason Kidd, Doncic set the tone against New Orleans.

“Luka, I thought set the tone, Kidd said. “He was Luka again tonight. Not just posting up; he was finding the open man, and I thought it was no stress offensively for us.”

Hardaway Jr. added on Doncic: “Every shot he was taking, it was going in, so it’s great to have a superstar that can get himself going, and also get his teammates going as well, and he did both tonight very, very, very, very well.”

The Mavericks needed that win against New Orleans, and they hope to sweep the home and home on Friday night in Dallas as they start a three-game homestand.

Listen below as Hardaway Jr. talks Doncic, and more:

Pels’ Williamson cleared to participate in full team activities

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson is slowly working his way back.

Williamson has been cleared to participate in full team activities, the Pelicans announced Friday. According to the team, Williamson, who underwent imaging on his fractured right foot on Wednesday (Nov. 24), was medically cleared by doctors.

Also, Williamson played 4-on-4 full-court today and will continue his progression towards returning to play, according to the team, according to the team.

An estimated date to return to game action has not been determined.

Williamson, who underwent foot surgery in the offseason, has not played a game this season. In 2020-21, the 21-year-old Williamson averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per contest.