NBA

McCollum stays hot with 40 points in Pelicans win, Jazz remain in playoff hunt

By Sports Desk December 23, 2022

The New Orleans Pelicans snapped a four-game losing streak on Thursday by defeating the visiting San Antonio Spurs 126-117.

Playing without top offensive options Zion Williamson (health and safety protocols) and Brandon Ingram (toe injury), it was C.J. McCollum's time to shine. Averaging 18.7 points per game entering the contest – McCollum's lowest figure since his second season back in 2014-15 – the 31-year-old showed he still has plenty in the tank. 

He scored a season-high 40 points on 14-of-27 shooting, adding nine assists, eight rebounds and two blocks in a spectacular showing.

It continues a strong run of scoring form for McCollum, who totalled 28 points, 27 points and 31 points in the three preceding games, while also averaging a career-high 5.9 assists for the season.

No other Pelican had more than Jonas Valanciunas' 16 points, while the Spurs received a standout performance from their lottery pick.

Selected ninth overall in this year's draft, Jeremy Sochan enjoyed his best game as a professional with 23 points (seven-of-14), nine rebounds and six assists.

With the win, the Pelicans are back on track at 19-12 – only a half-game behind the Western Conference leaders – while the Spurs are only one game away from the bottom of the conference at 10-21.

Beal brilliance not enough for Wizards

A well-rounded performance from the Utah Jazz saw them defeat the Washington Wizards 120-112 to improve their record to 19-16.

Nothing is going right at the moment for the Wizards, who have now lost 11 of their past 12, but it was no fault of Bradley Beal as he top-scored with 30 points on an efficient 13-of-20 shooting performance.

Meanwhile, the Jazz had four players score at least 18 points each, led by Malik Beasley off the bench with 25 on nine-of-17 shooting. 

It was an impressive start at center for Jazz rookie Walker Kessler, scoring 12 points while controlling the paint for 14 rebounds and two blocks.

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