Miami (AFP): The New Orleans Pelicans got back to winning ways on Thursday with CJ McCollum scoring a season-high 40 points in a 126-117 win over the struggling San Antonio Spurs.
The Pelicans, third in the Western Conference, ended a four-game losing streak with the victory, which also featured 16 points and 10 rebounds for Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas.
The Pelicans led 94-75 at the end of the third and, although they allowed San Antonio to put up 42 points in the fourth quarter, McCollum’s shooting, including 7 of 14 three-point attempts, proved to be the difference.
New Orleans secured the win, which takes them to 19-12, without key men Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr.
Williamson, who has been placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, is averaging 25.2 points this season.
“It was great to see CJ have a night like he did, 40 points and the nine assists he had were impressive, we needed that kind of production from him with the guys who were out,” said Pelicans head coach Willie Green.
Green praised McCollum for his work ethic and commitment to improving and said the key was now to replicate that performance more regularly.
“It is beautiful to watch when he is on the floor and scoring like he does and getting his team-mates involved. That is what we need from him every night, we know it won’t always be 40, but just that consistent production,” he said.
Jeremy Sochan top-scored for the Spurs with 23 points and also grabbed nine rebounds.
The Utah Jazz beat the Washington Wizards 120-112, with Malik Beasley scoring 25 points and Jordan Clarkson adding 23.
The Wizards (12-21) have now lost 11 of their past 12 games, with their only victory in that spell coming in Tuesday’s win at the Phoenix Suns.
Washington led 66-60 at half-time but trailed by three going into the fourth quarter.
A 26-foot three-point jumper from Nickeil Alexander-Walker opened up a double-digit lead for Utah, who remained in control until the end.