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Pelicans Defense Helps Carry Them To Perfect Road Trip With Victory In Atlanta

The Pelicans proved why they are a top defensive team with a strong performance against the Atlanta Hawks.

The New Orleans Pelicans went a perfect 3-0 on this current road trip with a 116-103 victory over the shorthanded Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks were missing a couple of key players, including All-Star point guard Trae Young. Regardless of who played, New Orleans showed why they are Top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency on the year, only one of four teams in the NBA.

New Orleans opened the game with a heavy dose of Zion Williamson, who featured on the first four possessions of the game. Atlanta ranked No. 27 in opponent paint points allowed per game, and the Pelicans made a concerted effort to exploit that. New Orleans outscored the Hawks 18-6 from the paint area to open the game. Defensively, the Pelicans held Atlanta to just 20 points in the period, thanks to five blocked shots, tying a season-high in the first quarter.

Williamson led all scorers with eight points, but the five New Orleans turnovers kept the Hawks close after one period of play. Sharpshooter Trey Murphy III came alive, scoring 13 of the first 16 Pelicans points in the quarter, helping New Orleans build a 20-point lead. Atlanta battled back with a few three-pointers late in the quarter to chop into the New Orleans lead. After making just one three-point shot in the first quarter, Atlanta made six three-pointers in the second period to cut the Pelicans lead to 53-42 at the half. 

New Orleans used the second half to create distance between themselves and the Hawks. Atlanta never got the lead under double-digits, with the Pels answering every run Atlanta made. The Pelicans won the battle in the paint, 56-38 in paint points, and outrebounded the Hawks 43-41. Murphy III led all players in scoring with 28 points on 10/18 shooting from the field. Zion Williamson scored 27 points, dished out seven assists, and grabbed six rebounds in another good all-around game for him. 

Herb Jones held Hawks guard Dejounte Murray to 23 points on 20 shots after he tied a career-high with 41 points on Friday. Jones' case to be First Team All-Defense grows stronger and stronger with defensive games like on Sunday. The victory on the road ties New Orleans with the most road wins of any team in the NBA (21). The Pelicans head home for a three-game homestand beginning on Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.