The New Orleans Pelicans faced the Sacramento Kings last night on the second night of a home back-to-back. The Pelicans came into this one hot off a brilliant win over the Los Angeles Lakers, while Sacramento was reeling off a three-point loss to the Indiana Pacers in their last outing. This matchup featured the third seed (Sacramento) and the tenth seed (New Orleans) in the West.
Missing starters Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Dyson Daniels, and Jonas Valanciunas, if the Pelicans were going to win this game, they were going to need a big game from the bench.
And boy, did they get a big game. The Pelicans scored 136 points – 50 of which came from their bench. A massive part of that 50 came from the MVP of Eurobasket himself, Willy Hernangomez, who was rewarded with major minutes tonight due to the injury to starting center Jonas Valanciunas.
Hernangomez played 28 minutes, posting 22 points on 43% shooting from the floor. The Spaniard was also perfect from the line, canning all eight of his attempts. It wasn’t just his points that impressed Pelicans fans and Coach Willie Green alike. It was his rebounding. He posted 16 rebounds, three of which coming on the offensive glass.
His ability to always stay ready is admirable and was on full display in yesterday’s win. Willy is a massive asset to the Pelicans, and he showed his worth in last night’s game.
Another bright spark for New Orleans in last night’s game was Kira Lewis Jr. Ever since his ACL injury Lewis has worked tirelessly to come back and be the best version of himself, and now his hard work is finally starting to show.
Last night, Lewis notched up eleven points on an efficient 4 of 7 shooting, including going a perfect 2 of 2 from three. Kira has a blazing burst, and he showed it with 7 minutes left in the second quarter, driving on Sabonis, drawing the contact, and finger-rolling it home for a beautiful and-one.
The young guard also added four rebounds and four assists in 22 minutes of action. Perhaps his most impressively, the Pelicans were a staggering +15 in his minutes.
The duo of Hernangomez and Lewis combined for 33 of the Pelicans’ 50 bench points. Devonte’ Graham and Jaxson Hayes added six more each, with Graham nailing two threes and Jaxson throwing down a vicious cutting dunk.
Jose Alvarado had an off night but still managed to contribute two points. For those keeping count, the last three were scored by Garrett Temple, who got five minutes of action near the end and finished a perfect 1 for 1 from the floor.
A massive bench effort helped the Pelicans blowout Sacramento and push them one game over the .500 mark for the season.