SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Following his best game of the season, which included a career-best seven 3-pointers, all Ian Clark wanted to do was sit down.
With the New Orleans Pelicans down to a three-man bench that forced coach Alvin Gentry to scrap his normal rotations, Clark earned a rare start and played nearly 36 minutes in a fast-paced game that left him exhausted at the end.
Clark had 31 points, Elfrid Payton scored 12 of his 25 in the final 3½ minutes and New Orleans beat the Sacramento Kings 133-129 on Sunday night.
“Heck of a day,” Clark said as he settled back into a folding chair. “Credit to them, they kind of pushed us to do that. They get it out and they run, especially in transition, so it made it a fast-paced game. It’s a good kind of tired.”
Jahlil Okafor added 23 points and 14 rebounds, Solomon Hill had 13 points and Kenrich Williams scored 12 to help the Pelicans stop a three-game skid while beating the Kings for the third time in four meetings this season.
New Orleans (33-48) was short-handed after Julius Randle and Stanley Johnson were ruled out before the game. The Pelicans have already been playing long stretches without Jrue Holiday — out since undergoing shoulder surgery in March — and Anthony Davis (back spasms).
With little help coming off the bench, New Orleans’ starters were forced to pick up the slack.
“Knowing that we had eight guys, everybody had to step up,” Okafor said. “It was a lot of fun. We had each other’s back. It really just felt like it was us eight versus everybody else.”
Harrison Barnes scored 29 points for Sacramento in its final home game. De’Aaron Fox added 24 points and 11 assists, while Marvin Bagley had 19 points and 14 rebounds.
“They were playing free and loose and we just had too many breakdowns at the point of attack,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “It’s still been a terrific season but by and large over the last nine games, I think we’ve played well once.”
New Orleans led by 16 in the third quarter but Sacramento came back to tie it, then went up 117-115 midway through the fourth.
Bogdan Bogdanovic and Barnes made consecutive 3s to put the Kings ahead 123-121. Payton then scored on a short jumper and made a 3-pointer.
The Pelicans led 132-126 following a pair of free throws by Payton with 26.5 seconds remaining. Bogdanovic made another 3 but later airballed an attempt from beyond the arc. Buddy Hield also missed a late 3-pointer for the Kings.
Hield finished with 12 points and made two 3s, giving him 599 in his first three NBA seasons. That matches the mark set by Portland’s Damian Lillard.
The Kings got off to a good start but couldn’t hold off the Pelicans in the second half.
Nemanja Bjelica was perfect on five shots in the first quarter and had 12 points. Fox added 10 to help offset four 3s by Clark in the opening period.
The Kings led by 14 before Clark led a late charge in the second quarter to pull the Pelicans to 68-66.
PLAY IT AGAIN
New Orleans equaled a franchise record with 19 3-pointers. It’s the third time this season the Pelicans have made 19 3s.
ONE TO GO
The Pelicans prevented the Kings from celebrating their first 40-win season at home since 2005-06. Sacramento (39-42) can still reach 40 wins by beating Portland on the road Wednesday.
Pelicans: With Randle getting the night off for rest, Christian Wood started in his place.
Kings: Bagley’s double-double was his 19th this season. ... Joerger picked up a technical foul at the end of the third, his eighth this season. ... Sacramento closed the third quarter on a 22-6 run, not long after allowing the Pelicans to go on a 20-5 spurt.
Pelicans: Play at Golden State on Tuesday.
Kings: End the season at Portland on Wednesday.