New Orleans Pelicans: Grades for dominant win vs. Clippers

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans have somehow blown out the best team in the Western Conference twice this season.

Stan Van Gundy’s team picked up a dominant 103-120 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in a game that the Pelicans generally controlled. Of course, there’s always the risk that this Pels team can blow a double-digit lead, but this was not the case on Monday night at the Smoothie King Center.

The Pelicans led for most of the game and, by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the contest was no longer truly competitive. In all fairness, the Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, Serge Ibaka, and Luke Kennard. Paul George tweaked his ankle during the game and only played 24 minutes, although he had scored just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting until that point.

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Meanwhile, the Pelicans could not count on Steven Adams and James Johnson due to injury. The New Zealand center’s absence meant that Willy Hernangómez came into the starting lineup, where he did not disappoint.

Despite this win, the Pelicans are still four games behind the possibility of making the play-in tournament. Things were further complicated after the San Antonio Spurs squeezed out a three-point overtime victory on Monday, meaning that the Pelicans essentially need a perfect end to the regular season.

Here are the player grades for the Pels’ blowout win against the Clippers, starting with my personal MVP:

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Grading the best player

A-. . Big. New Orleans Pelicans. WILLY HERNANGOMEZ

I have to reward Willy Hernangómez for staying ready and playing an incredible game against the Clippers.

The Spanish center has been in-and-out of Stan Van Gundy’s rotation throughout the season, but he deserves credit for always doing his job whenever called upon. This was one of those cases.

Hernangómez started the game in Steven Adams’ absence and, in all honesty, had one of the best games that any Pels center has played this season. The big man dominated everything around the rim on both ends of the floor, playing with a level of defensive activity that he doesn’t always show.

Maybe it was because the Clippers are one of the slowest teams in the league pace-wise, but Hernangómez was unbothered on defense throughout his 30 minutes on the floor. He played with active hands and ended up with three steals and one block.

On attack, he was dominant. Hernangómez only missed two shots and, more importantly, bullied everyone on the glass. He almost had a double-double by half time and ended up getting it by the end of his night.