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Wolves sunk by Pelicans, Doncic dazzles for Mavs

By AFP - Dec 13,2023 - Last updated at Dec 13,2023

LOS ANGELES — Zion Williamson erupted for 36 points, as the New Orleans Pelicans exploited the absence of Anthony Edwards to upset the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-107 on Monday.

Williamson spearheaded a dominant offensive performance by New Orleans, who bounced back superbly after being bullied into defeat by 44 points against the Los Angeles Lakers in last week’s in-season tournament.

C.J. McCollum added 23 points while Brandon Ingram weighed in with 20 to fire the Pelicans to a deserved victory over the NBA Western Conference leaders.

The defeat snapped Minnesota’s six-game winning streak although the Wolves remain clear at the top of the table with a 17-5 record.

“We trusted each other and we executed,” Williamson said.

“We’ve been through tough moments but we’re resilient. I think that showed tonight, glad we got the win,” Williamson added.

New Orleans improved to 13-11 and are ninth in the Western standings.

Elsewhere, Luka Doncic inspired the injury-hit Dallas Mavericks with 35 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in a gutsy 120-113 road win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The shorthanded Mavs, missing Kyrie Irving, Grant Williams and Tim Hardaway Jr. amongst others, took the lead eight minutes into the first quarter and kept their noses in front to claim victory.

Rookie Dereck Lively II had 16 points and 16 rebounds while Jaden Hardy added 19 from the bench.

Mavs coach Jason Kidd saluted Doncic’s leadership in galvanising an understrength Dallas line-up.

“I think you’ve seen enough of him that he believes anytime he takes the floor he has a chance to win,” Kidd said.

“His leadership of always getting that group together, to make sure everybody was on the same page, he’s done that all year for us.

“That just shows his leadership, his maturity. He’s growing. On the road, against a talented team, we found a way to win, but it starts with Luka and he set the tone.”


‘Pretty amazing’


It was another in a sequence of MVP-calibre performances from Doncic, who has now scored 30 or more points in his last seven games.

“I think leadership is important,” Doncic said. “I think this year has been way better for me. Obviously we had like five guys out, so it’s a pretty amazing win.”

In other games, the San Antonio Spurs’ woes continued with a franchise-record 17th straight defeat in a 93-82 loss to the Houston Rockets. San Antonio remain rock bottom of the Western Conference with a 3-19 record.

San Antonio’s No.1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama led his team’s scoring with 15 points, but the Spurs were always struggling after converting only five successful three-pointers from 41 attempts from beyond the arc.

“They played their ass off. They played a great game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “But you’ve got to make a shot in the NBA — you can’t shoot five for 41 from three... it just makes it very, very difficult.”

In Atlanta, a 29-point performance from Jamal Murray and 25 points from Nikola Jokic helped the NBA champion Denver Nuggets to a 129-122 win over the Hawks.

BogdanBogdanovic made 40 off the bench — including a remarkable 10-of-17 from three-point range — but it was not enough to get Atlanta over the line.

In Philadelphia, Joel Embiid’s 34 points stole the show as the Sixers crushed the Washington Wizards 146-101.

In Milwaukee, the Bucks held off the Chicago Bulls in overtime to claim a 133-129 win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo topped the Milwaukee scoring with 32 points with 12 rebounds and six assists as Chicago’s challenge fell short despite 41 points from DeMar DeRozan and 33 from Coby White.

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