New Orleans. Some players and staff members of the New Orleans Pelicans organization received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, following changes in the eligibility rules for residents of the state of Louisiana.
The Pelicans indicated that the vaccines were administered on Saturday, although they did not reveal who received them. They are the first NBA team to recognize that they have received the vaccine on a large scale.
The team clarified that it was backing “the state’s vital efforts” to encourage the public to get vaccinated, and Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said he wanted his team to be an example.
“In my opinion, the more people we can urge to get vaccinated, the better it will be for all of us,” Van Gundy explained. “It seems to me that it is really our only way to leave all this experience with COVID behind, to be able to open more and keep the population safe.”
Louisiana authorities last week expanded the list of those who can receive the vaccine “to include people who have health conditions that could pose a greater risk of becoming ill” and are older than 18 years. Among the highest risk groups are those with a body mass index of 25 or more, which technically classifies them as overweight.
Many of the Pelicans players fall into that category, even though they are NBA players and elite athletes.
The NBA has no problem with the fact that the Pelicans received the vaccine, as the guidelines of state authorities were followed. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has repeatedly said that the league and its teams would not “skip the line” by getting vaccinated before they are eligible to do so.
Some NBA coaches, including San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, have previously received the vaccine. Popovich is 72 years old, which means that he meets the standards of the age recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (CDC for its acronym in English) to prioritize the population older than 65 years in the inoculation process.
Beat up the Clippers
Zion Williamson scored 27 points, Brandon Ingram added 23 and the New Orleans Pelicans posted their second straight win by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 135-115 on Sunday.
Williamson intimidated the Clippers near the basket, exploding hard to the rim with his dribble or in transition to sneak in layups amid incapable defenders or donkeys that blew the rim. He also continued to handle the ball deftly, dribbling behind his back on the break and making clever passes to set up baskets that included a 3 by Josh Hart, an alley-oop by Jaxson Hayes and a layup by Eric Bledsoe.
Ingram attacked Los Angeles with paint-cutting attacks, jump shots and three 3-pointers, including one where he was fouled, to make a four-point play.
Lonzo Ball hit five 3s and finished with 20 points for New Orleans, which shot 65.4% (53-of-81), the season-high in the NBA. Jaxson Hayes highlighted his 17 points, his best mark of the season, with a ‘tomahawk’ donqueo in which he virtually jumped on Clippers guard Reggie Jackson before sinking the ball hard and it bounced off the head of Jackson.
New Orleans outscored the Clippers 72-40 in the paint and led by as many as 33 points, two nights after beating Cleveland by 34.
Kawhi Leonard scored 23 and Jackson 18 for the Clippers, who did not have Patrick Beverley.