MARCUS Morris, Sr. scored 22 points, and the refreshed Los Angeles (LA) Clippers routed the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 119-100 on Sunday night to clinch the eighth spot in the Western Conference heading into the play-in tournament.
Morris (knee) was one of four Clippers starters to return after sitting out a 153-119 victory at Milwaukee on Friday. The others included Paul George (elbow), who scored 15 points, and Reggie Jackson (rest), who had 11 points and 10 assists as the Clippers (39-40) began a season-ending four-game homestand.
CJ McCollum scored 19 points, Brandon Ingram added 15, and Jaxson Hayes had 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead the ninth-place Pelicans (34-44), who missed an opportunity to clinch a play-in berth.
The Clippers took control by outscoring the Pelicans 29-13 in the second quarter to build a 22-point half time lead.
The lead shrunk briefly to 19 points early in the third quarter, but Los Angeles extended it to 25 before holding a 92-71 lead at the end of the period.
New Orleans scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to pull within 17, but the Clippers scored the next six points.
The score was tied five times, and the lead changed hands five times in the first quarter, which ended with the Clippers holding a 37-31 lead after making all eight of their 3-point attempts.
Los Angeles scored the first four points of the second quarter to push the lead to double figures before Naji Marshall’s basket provided the Pelicans’ first points of the period.
The Clippers scored 12 straight points to take a 53-33 lead before Jonas Valančiūnas’ basket ended the run.
The lead grew to 23 points twice, and Los Angeles went into half time holding a 66-44 advantage. — Reuters