Local Sports

Pelicans Drop Struggling Bulls

Devonte' Graham hit five 3-pointers on his way to a season-high 30 points, CJ McCollum scored 25 and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Chicago Bulls 126-109 on Thursday night.


Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and 19 rebounds for the Pelicans, who won for the fourth time in six games as they try to solidify their hold on a Western Conference play-in spot.


Zach LaVine scored 39 points and Coby White added 23 for Chicago, which played without leading scorer DeMar DeRozan (left groin) and lost for the fifth time in six games. The slumping Bulls are in danger of sliding out of a top-six seed in the East (the seventh and eighth seeds have to host the play-in round).


Pelicans undrafted rookie Jose Alvarado scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, hitting a driving layup, floater and 3 in succession to help fuel a pivotal surge in which New Orleans built a 15-point cushion. Graham's deep 3 and Valanciunas' 10-foot turnaround capped the spurt and made it 107-92 with 6:26 to go.


Javonte Green and Alex Caruso each hit a 3 to help Chicago pull to 109-102 before Graham hit a momentum-halting driving layup as he was fouled. Graham added two more free throws to give him five straight points.


McCollum's bank shot made it 116-102 with 2:01 left and Chicago removed its starters soon after.


LaVine scored 16 points in the first quarter, when he hit five of his first six shots, including all three 3s he attempted, and helped Chicago build a lead as large as nine.


But the Pelicans erased the deficit in the second. Graham's 29-foot 3, followed by his driving floater while being fouled, put New Orleans up 52-50.


The Pelicans were ahead by four late in the period on Herb Jones' putback, but White drained his fourth of five 3s on the night to pull Chicago to 63-62 at halftime.


The Bulls visit Cleveland on Saturday night in the third of five straight road games.

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