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Graham, Valanciunas push Pelicans past Pacers, 117-113

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Devonte’ Graham scored 25 points, Josh Hart had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Indiana Pacers 117-113 yesterday.

Graham, who was questionable before the game because of a sore left ankle, started and went five of nine from three-point range on a night when the rest of his team missed 20 of 21 from deep. Two of his threes and eight of his points came in the final six minutes of a game that was tight until the end.

Hart, who briefly left the game in the third quarter after turning his left ankle, returned in the fourth quarter and immediately hit the Pelicans’ only other made three of the game. He grabbed his ninth rebound with 28 seconds left to help stave off the Pacers’ comeback bid.

The short-handed Pacers stayed in the game – and led for a good portion of it – because of their three-point shooting. They made 19 of 46 (41.3 per cent) for the game.

Duane Washington Jr, an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State who’d made 17 threes for the season coming in, hit a career-best seven shots (on 12 attempts) from deep for a career-high 21 points.

The game was a highly competitive contest between teams missing their top scorers.

Pelicans leading scorer Brandon Ingram was sidelined by a right ankle sprain, while Pacers top scorer and interior defender Domantas Sabonis was out with a left ankle sprain.

The absence of Sabonis inside benefitted Pelicans centre Jonas Valanciunas, who had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Caris LeVert scored 19 and Chris Duarte 14 for the Pacers. Neither team led by more than eight points in a game that had 12 lead changes
and 10 ties.

LeVert’s three with two seconds left pulled the Pacers to 115-113 before New Orleans successfully inbounded the ball and Nickeil Alexander-Walker iced the game with two free throws to cap off his 14-point, six-assist performance.

Indiana Pacers’ Justin Holiday and New Orleans Pelicans’ Jonas Valanciunas. PHOTO: AP
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