Pelicans’ Jonas Valanciunas Scores Season-High 29 Points, Leads Win vs. Hornets

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NBA Analysis Network

Jonas Valanciunas delivered a standout performance with a season-best 29 points and 13 rebounds, leading the New Orleans Pelicans to a 112-107 victory over the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA’s Friday action. This win marked the Pelicans’ third consecutive triumph despite the Hornets’ roster challenges.

Zion Williamson returned to action after missing a game, contributing 21 points and 11 rebounds. C.J. McCollum also played a crucial role, especially in the final quarter, scoring 13 of his total 19 points.

The Hornets saw impressive efforts from Terry Rozier with 30 points and Miles Bridges with 27 points and 10 rebounds. The team’s performance was hindered by the absence of key players, including starting center Mark Williams, due to a back injury.

Pelicans coach Willie Green strategized to utilize Valanciunas more, given the Hornets’ weakened frontcourt. Valanciunas took full advantage, causing significant trouble for Charlotte’s Nick Richards and Nathan Mensah, who collectively accumulated 11 fouls early in the fourth quarter.

“He was excellent,” Green said. “We put the ball in his hands and he either made the right play, either scoring or getting to the free throw line 90% of the time. That is something that is a luxury for us. If we don’t have it going we can just throw it to JV.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans, Charlotte Hornets Updates

Hornets coach Steve Clifford acknowledged the challenge of containing Valanciunas, especially given the current team composition. With critical players like P.J. Washington also sidelined, the Hornets faced added difficulty, highlighted by Mensah fouling out in his NBA debut.

“He’s a really good player,” Clifford said of Valanciunas. “He’s been a good player for a long time. It was evident right in the first quarter there they were going to go to him a lot more than usual. He’s big and he’s physical and he really knows how to play.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans, Charlotte Hornets Updates

Charlotte initially trailed by 11 at the half but briefly surged ahead in the third quarter, spurred by Rozier and Bridges. However, McCollum’s resurgence in the fourth quarter, including key three-pointers, helped extend the Pelicans’ lead. Despite a late push from the Hornets, highlighted by Rozier’s 3-pointer, the Pelicans secured the win with Herbert Jones’ crucial free throws and rebounding in the final moments.

“I’m just taking whatever the defense gives me,” Rozier said. “I obviously want to get guys involved at the beginning, but I’ll find ways to get mine, too.”

Rozier continued his strong scoring run, averaging 28.3 points over the last seven games, taking on more responsibility in LaMelo Ball’s absence due to an ankle injury.

Looking ahead, the Pelicans face the San Antonio Spurs next, while the Hornets host the Philadelphia 76ers in their upcoming matchups.

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