LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP)Jrue Holiday scored 28 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Washington Wizards 118-107 without star rookie Zion Williamson on Friday night, improving their chances of earning a Western Conference playoff spot.
Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 NBA draft, rested. The Pelicans continued their practice of holding him out of the second game of back-to-backs, as they did before the hiatus while managing his recovery from a right meniscus tear. Williamson also left the team three weeks ago to attend to a family medical matter, which has affected his conditioning.
Without him, the Pelicans still shot 48 percent. New Orleans is 2 1/2 games behind eighth-place Memphis in the West and 1 1/2 games behind ninth-place Portland with three games remaining. To force a play-in, a team must be in ninth place and within four games of the eighth-place team.
Rui Hachimura scored 23 points, Thomas Bryant scored 22 and Troy Brown Jr. added 20 points and 10 rebounds for Washington. The Wizards fell to 0-5 in the restart and are too far behind Orlando in the Eastern Conference standings to force a play-in.
The Wizards led 56-54 at halftime, but the Pelicans took control for good in the third quarter and led 91-81 heading into the fourth.
Pelicans: Made 6 of 12 3-pointers in the third quarter. … Frank Jackson had a +30 plus/minus score. He finished with 13 points in just over 20 minutes. … Derrick Favors had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Wizards: Shot 51% in the first half, but just 25% in the third quarter. … Ish Smith had 18 points and 10 assists.
Pelicans: Play the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
Wizards: Play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
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