Jonas Valanciunas just went for a career high-7 points in the Raptors’ victory over the Bulls.
Jonas Valanciunas went for a career high of 7 points, as the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards.
2:38 A.M. ET
ESPN’s Andrew Lopez
When Jonas Valanciunas first joined the NBA in 2012, he wasn’t exactly a marksman. In fact, he shot 1-of-4 from 3-point range in his first five seasons in the NBA.
Those days, however, are long gone.
On Monday night, Valanciunas nailed his first seven 3-pointers, all in the first half, to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 123-104 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Since 2017, the 6-foot-11, 265-pound bruiser has gradually added the three-point shooting to his game, but he’s never had a night like Tuesday, when he set a career best with 39 points and 15 rebounds.
“Guys were calling him Dirk Valanciunas,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said, referring to Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks. “However, when he’s open, we want him to shoot the ball and mix it in. He still wants to go to the post office, which I like. He’s a man of action. But simply talking to him how his ability to shoot the ball the way he does would open up our offense was incredible to witness tonight.”
Valanciunas and Stephen Curry are the only players in the NBA this season with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, and seven 3-pointers in the same game, and they both did it against the Clippers. Valanciunas also made NBA history by being the first player to ever have seven 3-pointers and seven offensive rebounds in the same game.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he is just the sixth player since play-by-play tracking started in 1996 to shoot at least 7-of-7 from 3-point range in a half, joining Trevor Ariza (2014), Curry (2013), Ben Gordon (2012), Shawne Williams (2011), and Raef LaFrentz.
Valanciunas shot 56.4 percent from outside the arc in his first 18 games. However, he went 1-for-11 in his last three games, and it looked that his percentages were returning to normal.
Valanciunas, on the other hand, continued to let the bullets fly after the first two went in. In the second quarter, he went on a 14-4 run, including a period in which he scored back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers, sending the Pelicans bench into a frenzy.
Valanciunas had improved to 30-for-58 on 3-pointers this season, a league-leading 51.7 percent, by the end of the night. He’s two shy of matching his career best of three in a season, which he achieved in Memphis two seasons ago.
He realizes, however, that he has a long way to go before he can live up to his new moniker.
With a grin, the 10-year veteran replied, “Well, I’m still Jonas Valanciunas.” “Everyone aspires to be [Dirk].” He’s one of the game’s most dominant big men. But I still have to put in a lot of effort if I want to be like him.
“I’m just taking what’s available. I’ll take an open shot if it’s available. I’ll keep taking it if I’m creating it. That’s all there is to it.”
Valanciunas’ career-best 7 three-pointers came only 10 days after he established his previous career high of 5-of-9 against the same Clippers club in a game played in New Orleans on Nov. 19.
Clippers coach Ty Lue said Monday night, “We simply couldn’t stop him.” “We were due for a horrible defensive performance, but Valanciunas hit seven three-pointers.”
Baxter Holmes of ESPN contributed to this article.
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Jonas Valanciunas is a 7-foot Lithuanian center who was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He has been playing for the Raptors since 2012. Reference: jonas valanciunas spotrac.
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