Valanciunas's unprecedented shooting spree draws comparisons with Dirk Nowitzki

2021-11-30 09:16
Credit: Scanpix

Jonas Valanciunas turned many heads when he hit seven of his attempted wight three-point shots in the Pelicans' win (123-104) over the Clippers on Monday night.

That was an impressive performance for the Lithuanian big who only went 1-of-4 from 3-point range on his first five seasons in the league, from 2012 through 2017.

Overall, Valanciunas scored a career-high 39 points to go along with 15 rebounds.

"Guys were calling him Dirk Valanciunas," Pelicans coach Willie Green said, per ESPN, referencing Dallas Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki. "But we want him shooting the ball when he's open and mixing it in.

He still wants to go to the post, which I love about him. He's a physical guy. But just explaining to him how it's going to open our offense up with his ability to shoot the ball the way he can, it was amazing to see tonight."

Player of the Game
Jonas  Valančiūnas
Jonas Valančiūnas
Points 39
Accuracy 15-24
Rebounds 15
Assists 3

"Well, I'm still Jonas Valanciunas," the 29-year-old said with a chuckle. "Everybody wants to be [Dirk]. He's one of the greatest big guys in the game. But I still gotta work a lot to be like him.

"I'm just taking what's out there. If I have an open shot, I'll take it. If I'm making it, I'll keep taking it. It's as simple as that."

Valanciunas joined Stephen Curry as the only players this season to record at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 3-pointers in a game, and both did it against the Clippers. He also became the first player in NBA history to have seven 3-pointers and seven offensive rebounds in the same game.

In his first 18 games, Valanciunas was shooting 56.4% from deep. But he went 1-for-11 in his three games prior to Monday. By the time the night was finished, he had improved to 30-for-58 on 3-pointers this season - a league-leading 51.7%.

He's just two shots away from tying his career-high for three-pointers made in a season, which he set two seasons ago in Memphis.

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