NEW ORLEANS (AP)CJ McCollum scored 23 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 22 and the New Orleans Pelicans won their second straight game without Zion Williamson in the lineup, beating the Chicago Bulls 124-110 on Wednesday night.
Trey Murphy III hit five 3s and finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, and the Pelicans combined to make 17 3-pointers en route to their third straight win overall, and fourth in five games.
”We’ve been doing a better job spacing, a better job of sharing the ball,” McCollum said. ”Shooting more 3s, I think that’s the difference, getting quality looks.”
DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points and Zach LaVine had 25 for Chicago. The Bulls have dropped three straight, starting with their home loss to New Orleans on Nov. 9.
With Williamson watching from the bench with a bruised right foot, New Orleans opened a lead as large as 26 points when Naji Marshall’s 3 made it 108-82 with 8:10 left in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls didn’t miss a shot attempt for about seven minutes, hitting nine straight, but could not get closer than 14 at 119-105 on DeRozan’s driving dunk.
Murphy, who also had three steals, finished 5 of 6 from deep, hitting one shot from 33 feet out.
”If you watch my warm-up pre game I shoot from around those areas because a lot of times I’m not getting 3s on the line,” Murphy said. ”In all honesty, I don’t even see where the line is during the game. I just see like, an open shot.”
Murphy also completed a transition dunk over Nikola Vucevic, added a putback dunk and had three steals.
”The athleticism is something that he’s getting used to showing and displaying,” McCollum said. ”He’s been very, very good for us and has showed a lot of growth.”
Brandon Ingram missed 11 of 15 shots but still had 16 points and nine assists. Jose Alvarado made 6 of 7 shots and had 13 points.
The Pelicans hit 10 of 19 3-point shots in the first half, including four makes from deep by Murphy, and led 58-53 at halftime
Bulls: Shot 11 of 17 from on free throws, marking the first time in 14 games Chicago shot below 80% from the free-throw line. … Vucevic finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. … Alex Caruso had 13 points in a reserve role. … Shot 11 of 32 from 3.
Pelicans: Coach Willie Green said Williamson remains day to day and could return to action before New Orleans’ homestand ends on Monday night against Golden State. … New Orleans (9-6) is three games above .500 for the first time since Nov. 19, 2018. … Shot better from 3-point range (51.5%) than from inside the arc (26 of 52, or 50%).
Valanciunas joked that Murphy, a 2021 first-round draft pick out of Virginia, did not deserve congratulations for his maiden NBA double-double because ”he was stealing my rebounds.”
”He’s improved bigtime,” Valanciunas said on a more serious note. ”He’s working hard. In the gym all the time – talented, humble.” … He is a good teammate. He comes to dinner with me.”
Asked if he regretted ”stealing” rebounds from Valanciunas, Murphy said, ”Absolutely not, and I’ll steal it again.”
Murphy, who had 13 points in a victory over Memphis on Tuesday night, said he wanted to dedicate his past two games to ”my friends at Virginia that were killed in the last few days.”
Noting that one of the victims, football player Lavel Davis Jr., was a friend of his, he added, ”Really sad to see him go. He’s a special guy. So please keep their families in your prayers.”
Fellow Virginia football players D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandlers also were killed Sunday night in the on-campus shooting, allegedly committed by fellow student and former Cavaliers football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr.
Bulls: Host Orlando on Friday night.
Pelicans: Host Boston on Friday night.
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