NEW ORLEANS (AP) — CJ McCollum scored 33 points and the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans beat the Detroit Pistons 125-116 on Thursday with both teams playing for the second straight night.
New Orleans was playing without starting power forward Zion Williamson and starting wing Brandon Ingram, who are also two of their top scorers.
Williamson, who has been injury prone during his first four NBA seasons, was given the night off with the back-to-back and the Pelicans also playing the second of three games in four nights.
Ingram missed his third straight game with right knee tendinitis.
Matt Ryan, a third-year pro out of Chattanooga, got his first-career start and scored a career-high 20 points, hitting the first four 3-pointers he took and finishing 6 of 8 from deep. Jonas Valanciunas had 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Herb Jones added 21 points and had a career-high four blocked shots.
Cade Cunningham had 22 points and 11 assists for Detroit, which dropped its third straight. Marcus Sasser hit five 3s and finished with 19 points, while Ausar Thompson scored 16 points.
One night after scoring 29 points in a 110-106 victory at Oklahoma City, McCollum picked up where he left off, scoring 25 points in the first half on an array of shots ranging from scoop set up by a euro step in the lane to, driving floaters off the glass or 3-pointers.
His early production helped New Orleans build a 25-point lead in the second quarter when Jones’ free throws made it 70-45.
Having pulled off the largest road comeback in franchise history a night earlier when they erased a 22-point deficit in Oklahoma City, the Pelicans briefly looked to be in danger of blowing a big lead at home.
Coming off a home loss to Portland, Detroit got back within single digits when Sasser’s 3 made it 111-103 with 4:03 left, but Jones hit a driving layup while being fouled on New Orleans’ next trip down the court.
Dyson Daniels’ bail-out 3 as the shot clock wound down a couple minutes later gave him 10 points and helped the Pelicans hold Detroit at bay.
Pistons: Host Phoenix on Sunday.
Pelicans: Host Atlanta on Saturday.