Zion Williamson on a tear as Pelicans host Knicks

NBA Basketball

The New Orleans Pelicans and the New York Knicks each have won three games in a row as they prepare to meet twice in five days, beginning with a Wednesday night matchup in New Orleans.

Zion Williamson has averaged 35 points during the Pelicans’ three-game streak. In Monday’s a 117-110 victory over Sacramento, Williams scored 30 points and Brandon Ingram had 34.

“I love playing with Brandon,” Williamson said. “He’s a great player. I think we complement each other very well. When it’s time to win, we both know what we’ve got to do.”

Both Williamson (averaging 26.8 points) and Ingram (24.0) have missed time recently because of injury, but the Pelicans are 9-3 in the last 12 games they have both played. It was the fourth time this season they have both scored 30-plus points in the same game.

“Zion was doing what Zion does,” Ingram said. “We just did what we needed to do down the stretch.”

The Pelicans led the Kings by 23 points at halftime and saw the lead shrink to four late in the game. Not only were they finishing a back-to-back, but they were also playing their eighth game in 12 days.

“I said to my wife today before I left the house, ‘I hope our players aren’t as tired as I am,'” New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I don’t even run up and down the court. The whole season has been a grind, but that’s a grueling schedule. I think that showed in the second half.”

New York completed a three-game homestand Monday night with a 111-96 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Julius Randle had 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Knicks in the start of consecutive games against Randle’s former teams. He played his first four seasons with the Lakers and played with the Pelicans for one season before joining the Knicks before last season.

“(The Lakers) are a good defensive team, and I was just aggressive from the start,” Randle said, “and it’s important early on the second night of a back-to-back to bring energy. And that’s what I tried to do.”

Another former Pelican, Elfrid Payton, scored 20 points and Derrick Rose added 14 off the bench for the Knicks.

“There’s ups and downs in a season, and you have to keep going,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. “If you get knocked down, dust yourself off, get up and come back with more fight and grit. That’s what this team has. It has a togetherness and a belief that we can get it done.”

The Knicks outrebounded the Lakers 47-33, and posted season highs by forcing 24 turnovers and recording 14 steals.

“I think, in general, it’s an important step for our team to take, to start with our defense,” Thibodeau said. “We wanted that to be a big part of our foundation. Hopefully that’s something that you can count on each and every night is your defense, rebounding.”

–Field Level Media

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