Pels win in D.C.; 1st time since they were Hornets

by Gordon Dixon - Before Monday night, the last time the Pelicans won on the road in Washington, they weren't even the Pelicans, they were the New Orleans Hornets.

Pelicans win at Washington for first time since Willie Green played for New Orleans Hornets 12:42 AM ET Andrew LopezESPN WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It had been quite a while since the New Orleans Pelicans won a game against the Washington Wizards in the nation's capital. The last time the franchise picked up a win at Capital One Arena, on Jan. 1, 2011, they weren't even the Pelicans, they were the New Orleans Hornets. Current Pelicans coach Willie Green, then a player for the Hornets, played 20 minutes that night in a 92-81 victory. On Monday night, his Pelicans ended a nine-game losing streak on the road in Washington in impressive fashion, setting a new season high in points with the 132-112 victory . While the end result went the Pelicans' way, things didn't start out that way. The Wizards began the game on a 10-0 run. Green credited forward Naji Marshall with getting things going after the Pelicans dug themselves an early hole. Marshall made a bad pass that turned into a Washington bucket, giving the Wizards an early seven-point lead when Green called timeout. After the timeout, the Wizards got another 3-pointer before the Pelicans turned things around. Pelicans coach Willie Green was player with the New Orleans Hornets the last time the franchise won a game at Capital One Arena, on Jan. 1, 2011. Terrance Williams/AP "He just started to make the right play over and over again," Green said. "I thought Naji was great. His response, and the rest of the team followed his emotional energy." Marshall grew up in the DMV area and estimated he had about 50-60 people at the game on Monday night. When asked what switch flipped when the team went down early, Marshall pointed back to his family and the, well, encouragement given to him by Green. "There's one thing I can't do in front of my people and that's look trash," Marshall said. "My people are not playing around. They would not let me hear the end of it. So once he already yelled at me and I had a feeling I might get taken out, I said let me lock in right quick." Marshall has been thrust into the starting lineup with the Pelicans missing both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram . He finished with 18 points in his homecoming performance. And while Marshall has stepped up, the Pelicans relied on their other stars, CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas . McCollum scored a game-high 34 points and Valanciunas had 27 points and 12 rebounds. It was McCollum's fourth consecutive 25-point game and Valanciunas' fifth consecutive double-double, both tying their respective season-high marks in those categories. Editor's Picks Zion out at least 3 weeks with hamstring strain 6d Andrew Lopez 2 Related Each had at least 20 points in the first half. While McCollum carried New Orleans in the first quarter with 16 points, the Pelicans turned to Valanciunas in the second, as he was able to attack the Wizards' frontcourt players who were battling foul trouble. He had 14 points in the quarter. "We just tried to establish his presence," McCollum said. "He's efficient in the post. He gets us to the bonus faster. He gets us points at the free throw line even if it's not a shot attempt. And that makes him screen better. That makes him defend better and do those things. Just got to be cognizant of that as the season progresses. Even when guys come back, we got to make sure he's eating." Williamson missed his fourth straight game while nursing a right hamstring strain , and Ingram hasn't played since Nov. 25 because of a toe contusion. The Pelicans improved to 8-4 this season when playing without Williamson, and are now 6-3 in games that both Williamson and Ingram have missed. With Williamson out, Valanciunas has stepped up his game, averaging 20.0 points and 12.3 rebounds in the past four contests. "It's always fun to play good and to play winning basketball," Valanciunas said. "There's no doubt about that. We're missing our two main guys, so everybody's got to step up and everybody's got to do some extra stuff to be able to win the game. I think that's what we all did and that gave us success."