Valanciunas, Hart, Ingram lead Pelicans past Clippers, 94-81

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jonas Valanciunas had 26 points and 13 rebounds and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame a 20-point first-half deficit to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 94-81 on Friday night.

After challenging the Pelicans to “grow up” after they'd blown double-digit leads at Washington and Miami earlier this week, Josh Hart had 19 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Brandon Ingram had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Kira Lewis Jr. added 16 points to help New Orleans win for just the third time in 17 games this season.

Los Angeles star Paul George scored 19 points but missed five of six shots in the fourth quarter as the Pelicans pulled away. Nicolas Batum scored 12 points for the Clippers, who've lost three of four.

George’s 3 made it 55-43 at halftime, but the Pelicans scored the first 10 points of the third quarter on Valanciunas’ dunk, 3s by Ingram and Valanciunas, and a runner by Hart.

From that point, the game was closely contested until the Pelicans used a pivotal 12-2 run, highlighted by Ingram’s dunk and 3s by Valanciunas and Lewis, to take their first double-digit lead at 89-78.

New Orleans missed 16 of its first 22 shots, which helped the Clippers build a 20-point lead early in the second quarter when Isaiah Hartenstein's short floater made it 36-16.

The Pelicans gradually chipped away, pulling to 45-36 on Kira Lewis Jr.'s 3.

TIP INS

Clippers: Hartenstein and Terance Mann each scored 11 points. ... Ivica Zubac had 11 rebounds. ... Missed 28 of 37 3-point shots and 37.8% overall (34 of 90).

Pelicans: Starting shooting guard Devonte' Graham sat out because of a sore left foot. He's been averaging 15.3 points per game. ... Shot 43.7% overall (38 of 87). ... Outrebounded the Clippers 55-43.

UP NEXT

Clippers: Host Dallas on Sunday

Pelicans: Visit Indiana on Saturday night.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Brett Martel, The Associated Press

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