NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Julius Randle capped a 34-point, 11-rebound night with a driving left-handed bank shot between two defenders with 8 seconds left and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Sacramento Kings 121-118 on Thursday night.
Buddy Hield scored 27 points for the Kings, but his 3-point attempt for the tie in the final seconds rimmed out to New Orleans center Christian Wood, sending the Kings (37-38) to a loss that put them on the brink of mathematical elimination from playoff contention. Sacramento began the day 5 1/2 games behind San Antonio, which hosted Cleveland on Thursday night.
Wood, playing in just his third game for New Orleans since being waived by Milwaukee, had 25 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Wood has scored at least 23 twice in his short stint with the Pelicans. Elfird Payton added 16 points and nine assists to help New Orleans snapped a three-game skid and win for just the second time in 11 games.
De’Aaron Fox had 25 points and 12 assists for the Kings. Willie Cauley-Stein added 18 points and 12 rebounds in an entertaining game in which neither team led by double digits. There were 15 lead changes and 13 ties.
New Orleans took the lead for good when Ian Clark’s 3 broke a tie with 2:33 left. The Kings twice pulled as close as a point, but Marvin Bagley III and Harrison Barnes both missed mid-range jumpers in the final minutes that could have given the Kings the lead.
While a playoff berth no longer appears realistic, the Kings still have a chance to finish with their best season since 2005-06, the last time the club ended the regular season with a winning record.
Kings: Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 14 points. Bagley and Barnes each had 10. ... Harry Giles III missed his fourth straight game with a thigh injury. Coach Dave Joerger said Giles is “still day-to-day.”... Starting F Nemanja Bjelica left the game at halftime with what the Kings termed a stomach illness. ... Cauley-Stein threw down a soaring, right-handed dunk on Jahlil Okafor in the second quarter, and on the Pelicans’ ensuing possession, Cauley-Stein flipped over Okafor’s back after attempting a shot-block on Okafor’s up-fake, only to have the Pelicans center duck under him. Cauley Stein appeared to nearly land on his head but immediately rose to his feet with no apparent injury. ... Fox finished the first half with an end-to-end dribble and spin in the lane before tossing in a floater that went down at the halftime horn sounded, pulling the Kings to 64-62. ... Hield, picked sixth overall by New Orleans in the 2016 NBA draft, was sent to Sacramento during his rookie year as part of a trade that brought DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans. While Cousins has since left in free agency for Golden State, Hield has been flourishing with Sacramento this season, averaging a team-leading 20.8 points per game.
Pelicans: Okafor had 12 points and nine rebounds, while Stanley Johnson scored 10 points. ... G Frank Jackson remained in the concussion protocol and unable to play. “He went to the doctor today and he is feeling better, but you know it is obviously out of our hands,” coach Alvin Gentry said. ... F Darius Miller was ruled out during halftime with an upper left thigh strain. ... Williams briefly left the game after getting poked in the eye by Fox in the first quarter but returned and played 3x minutes
Kings: At Houston on Saturday night.
Pelicans: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.