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Babbitt makes successful return to NBA

Luke Babbitt drives on the Los Angeles Lakers as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers two years ago.
Luke Babbitt drives on the Los Angeles Lakers as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers two years ago.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Luke Babbitt is back in the NBA.

Babbitt, who was signed this week by the New Orleans Pelicans, played in his first NBA game in a year on Friday night. Babbitt played 19 minutes in the Pelicans' 98-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves and scored five points with six rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Babbitt first entered the game with 9:52 to go in the second quarter. He hit a 3-pointer with 8:48 to go in the quarter to cut the Timberwolves' lead to 30-28. Babbitt also had three rebounds in a span of just over three minutes later in the quarter. He missed his last three shots in the second quarter and was sent to the bench after committing his first foul with 2:44 to go.

Babbitt, who played the last three seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, then sat out most of the third quarter, entering the game with just 33 seconds to go. The former Nevada Wolf Pack and Galena High forward, though, played the bulk of the fourth quarter and was instrumental in the Pelican's comeback victory.

The 6-foot-9 power forward blocked two shots in span of 91 seconds early in the fourth quarter. He also pulled down his fourth rebound with 6:16 to go in the game. Babbitt then stayed in the game despite committing two fouls 1:56 apart.

He got his fifth and sixth rebounds 21 seconds apart. His sixth rebound was an offensive rebound tip-in for a basket that gave the Pelicans an 89-82 lead with 2:40 to go.

Babbitt then played a key role in sewing up the victory. With the Pelicans up just 94-91 with 33 seconds to go, Anthony Davis tipped a jump ball to Babbitt, who secured the ball. Babbitt then quickly passed the ball to Brian Roberts who then drained a 22-foot jumper for a 96-91 lead with 22 seconds to play.

Pelicans' coach Monty Williams is excited to see what Babbitt can do over the final three months of the season. The Pelicans' needed a forward after a season-ending knee injury to Jason Smith. Ryan Anderson also has been out with a herniated disc in his back since early January.

"He's a guy that can shoot the ball and also has the ability to play the three," Williams said of Babbitt. "In a pinch, he can play some four. I worked him out. He's a serious kid and I'm looking forward to getting him in."

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