In case it has slipped anyone’s mind, Brandon Ingram is as deserving of taking part in the next NBA All-Star game as many of those who will be traveling to Cleveland later this month for the festivities.
Trailing the Rockets by a score of 60-49 less than two minutes out of halftime, Brandon Ingram decided to put the team on his back — just as any real leader would. His maestro-like execution resulted in a 17-point third quarter effort, leading the Pelicans to the come-from-behind 120-107 victory.
After trailing by their largest deficit of 11 points, the Pelicans outscored the Rockets 71-47 the rest of the way.
Ingram finished with his sixth double-double of season after tallying 33 points and 12 assists. He also added three rebounds, three 3s and three steals.
Maybe B.I. should try his luck with some slot machines tonight, but all jokes asides, Ingram is seeing the floor as well as he ever has in his career.
This is the third time since Dec. 3 that B.I. has totaled a career-best 12 assists in a game this season, and his second in as many games.
“Brandon is better than advertised,” Willie Green said in postgame. “He is otherworldly talented. He has an extremely high basketball IQ. He’s a great teammate, great human being and it’s just fun to be around him, to coach him, and to learn from him.”
Through the first six minutes of the contest, the Pelicans had nearly as many personal fouls (five) as points (points). Additionally, the Rockets had scored five of their seven points via two New Orleans turnovers.
Later, the Pelicans were outscored 33-23 in the second quarter, but soon thereafter, New Orleans left no doubt as to which team was superior on the floor.
Jaxson Hayes played a huge part in keeping the Pelicans close in the first half. He scored 13 of his 21 points in the first frame, finishing with his second straight 20-point performance. In the prior 163 games of his career, Hayes had scored 20 or more points just twice, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez.
There’s no question that part of the explanation for Hayes’ explosion is due to receiving more time at power forward than center. His instincts are greater on the perimeter and out in the open floor on both ends.
“Jaxson had another brilliant night,” Green said. “He does a great job of playing off Jonas, especially when we go with a bigger lineup. He’s great in transition. He’s a lob thread and he’s rebounding the ball at a high level. So all the things that we’re asking him to do. And then on top of that, he can guard multiple positions. Another great night for Jaxson and he’s continuing to get better.”
Jonas Valanciunas came alive in the fourth quarter to finish with a line of 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, and in his return to action, Josh Hart posted 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jose Alvarado each scored nine points off the bench.
The backup point guard (team-best +16 plus-minus) clearly had a stronger game than his starting counterpart. Devonte’ Graham struggled once again with his shot in scoring six points on 2 of 8 shooting.
The Rockets were led by Christian Wood (22 points, eight rebounds) and sharp-shooting reserve Garrison Matthews (18 points, five 3s).
With the victory, the Pelicans move into sole possession of the 10th seed in the Western Conference and they’ll face this same Rockets team in New Orleans in a couple days time.
That upcoming Tuesday matchup will mark the start of the longest home stretch of the season of six games for the Pelicans. There’s a real chance for New Orleans to solidify their hold of a spot in the Play-In tournament over the next 11 days.