By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Jonas Valanciunas made a career-best seven three-pointers and earned the nickname “Dirk” by his teammates. He went for 39 points, also a personal high, as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Los Angeles Clippers Monday.
“Well, I’m still Jonas Valanciunas,” he jokingly pointed out commenting on being sized up with European great Dirk Nowitzki, “Everybody wants to be him. He’s one of the greatest big guys in the game, but I still gotta work a lot to be like him.”
The experienced center scored 29 of his 39 points, including all seven threes, in the first half. He also put up 15 rebounds, three assists, and two steals over 32 minutes.
“The guys were calling him ‘Dirk’ Valanciunas,” added head coach Willie Green on his starting center becoming the fourth player logging at least 35 points, 15 rebounds, and seven threes in a single NBA game, “We want him shooting the ball when he’s open.”
Valanciunas, 29, has connected 30 long-range attempts over the first 23 games of the 2021-22 NBA Regular Season. Barring a major and unexpected setback, he will be destroying his personal best of 32 triples in 2019-20 as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. The improvement meets the modern standards for bigs expanding their range.
“It was just a team effort. Working with the guys, getting me open, running the plays for that,” he mentioned crediting his teammates for the 7/8 three-pointers at Staples Center, “It’s five guys effort on the court.”
Despite the Pelicans being held down to 14th place in the Western Conference on a 6-17 W-L tally, the Lithuanian center has been a constant solid contributor with 19.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.9 blocks, and 0.6 steals per contest.
Up next, a home-and-away series opposite the Dallas Mavericks stretching Wednesday through Friday.
Photo Credit: Getty Images