Pels lean on 'trust,' ride collective effort to Vegas

Kendra Andrews, ESPNDec 5, 2023, 02:39 AM ET

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SACRAMENTO — As the Sacramento Kings stormed out to a 15-point lead in Monday night’s NBA in-season tournament quarterfinal game, the New Orleans Pelicans remained calm.

“We just looked at each other like ‘We’re straight,'” Pelicans forward Zion Williamson said.

Having already beaten the Kings two times this season in New Orleans, the Pelicans expected Sacramento to punch early. The key, CJ McCollum said, was to not get knocked out.

Coach Willie Green’s game plan at the time was simple: one stop, one score, one stop, one score — that repeated enough times would bring the Pelicans right back into the game, which they eventually won 127-117 to advance to the tournament semifinals in Las Vegas.

“The biggest thing I saw in that game was trust,” Green said. “Our guys just stuck together, they stuck together in the huddle, and they continued to make the