LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida, USA
Jrue Holiday scored 28 points and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Washington Wizards 118-107 on Friday night without star rookie Zion Williamson, improving their chances of landing a ticket to the Western Conference playoffs.
Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, rested. The Pelicans continued their practice of knocking him out of the second game of consecutive games, just as they did before the break as they managed their recovery from a right meniscus injury. Williamson also left the team three weeks ago to attend to a family medical matter, which has affected his condition.
Without him, the Pelicans still made 48% of their shots. New Orleans is two and a half games behind eighth place Memphis in the Western Conference and one and a half games behind ninth place Portland with three games remaining. To force a series, the team must be in ninth place with a margin of four games or less from eighth.
Rui Hachimura scored 23 points, Thomas Bryant had 22 and Troy Brown Jr. added 20 and 10 rebounds for Washington. The Wizards have fallen to 0-5 since the season restarted and are too far behind Orlando in the Eastern Conference standings to force a playoff.
The Wizards led 56-54 at halftime, but the Pelicans took control of not letting go in the third quarter and were up 91-81 at the start of the last inning.