Williamson scores 29, Pelicans hold off Pistons 104-98

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Zion Williamson had 29 points and 10 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans held off the Detroit Pistons 104-98 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Trey Murphy III, a 2021 first-round draft choice starting because of Brandon Ingram's left foot injury, hit four 3s and finished with 20 points for New Orleans, which won for the 10th time in 12 games.

Naji Marshall added 17 points, including a put-back that made it 100-94 with 29 seconds left.

Saddiq Bey, who scored 25 points for Detroit, responded with a long jump shot that he intended to be from 3, but a replay review showed his foot slightly on the 3-point line, leaving the score at 100-96.

CJ McCollum and Murphy each hit free two throws in the last 18 seconds to help seal the victory.

Williamson, who has averaged 28 points during Ingram's five-game absence, dominated inside. His highlights included a spinning dribble drive in the paint as he was fouled, a driving, double-pump floater from the lane and a one-handed alley-oop jam as he appeared to hang in the air awaiting Murphy's lob.

When Detroit's Corey Joseph tried to bear-hug Williamson to prevent an easy transition layup in the first half, the Pelicans' imposing star forward found a way to toss the ball in anyway as he was falling to the court.

After Williamson pulled himself back up, he bent over holding one hand, palm down, above the hardwood — the “too small” gesture.

Pistons leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic was ejected with 9:13 left in the third quarter for something he apparently said to official Karl Lane.

Detroit trailed 61-45 at the time, but looked motivated by what could have been a demoralizing development.

Bey and Jaden Ivey combined for 19 points during the last half of the period, and Burks' 3 cut New Orleans' lead to 77-73.

Ivey finished with 12 points. Killian Hayes had 17 points and 11 assists for the Pistons, and Jalen Duren had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Williamson scored 18 points in the first half. His one-handed push pass from under the basket set up a corner 3 by Murphy, who had 10 early points, including an explosive driving dunk between converging defenders.

Detroit led by as many as seven points in the first quarter but hit just five of 19 shots in the second quarter, after which New Orleans led 56-43.

TIP-INS

Pistons: Burks scored 14 points and Isaiah Stewart added 10 points. ... Shot 38.9% (35 of 90), including 15 of 42 from 3. ... Finished with 54 bench points, led by Bey, Burks and Duren. ... Scored just 28 points in the paint.

Pelicans: Guard Jose Alvarado left the game in the third quarter with bruised ribs after running hard into a screen set by Stewart. ... Marshall was assessed a technical for shoving and jawing at Joseph after the whistle following a foul by Burks that caused Williamson to fall to the floor. ... Williamson has scored at least 20 in 14 of his 19 games this season. ... New Orleans scored 62 points in the paint.

UP NEXT

Pistons: Visit Memphis on Friday night.

Pelicans: Host Phoenix on Friday night.

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Brett Martel, The Associated Press