Okafor steps up with huge night to lift Pelicans

Little-used Jahlil Okafor had 25 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three blocks as the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans downed the Detroit Pistons in overtime 117-110 on Monday.The Pelicans were missing three starters, including leading scorer and power forward Brandon Ingram (right knee soreness). Derrick Favors (right hamstring strain) and Jrue Holiday (left elbow contusion) were also sidelined. Detroit has been playing without three of its projected starters in recent weeks.Okafor, starting in place of Favors, had not reached double digits in points since Nov 29.Nicolo Melli had 20 points and Lonzo Ball supplied 17 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, but also committed seven turnovers. E’Twaun Moore contributed 16 points and seven rebounds, while Frank Jackson tossed in 13 points with eight rebounds.Derrick Rose led Detroit, which has lost three straight, with 23 points and eight assists. Christian Wood supplied 18 points and nine rebounds, Sekou Doumbouya had 16 points and Svi Mykhailiuk chipped in 13 points. Andre Drummond added 11 points and 10 rebounds but was benched in the fourth quarter and overtime.Ball hit an uncontested 3-pointer with 2:37 left in overtime, giving New Orleans a 109-104 lead. A Jaxson Hayes tip-in nudged the advantage to seven points 24 seconds later. Wood responded with a three-point play.Melli drained a long two-pointer with 38.2 seconds left to make it 113-107 Pelicans and effectively put the game away.Okafor had 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the first half, powering the Pelicans to a 63-52 halftime lead.

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