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Another strong second-half effort propels Pelicans to third straight victory, a 116-107 win over Hawks

Herb Jones and Brandon Ingram were outstanding

Atlanta Hawks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Superb defensive efforts coming out of halftime have become the new status quo. The offense has more than held its own during these stretches too.

The New Orleans Pelicans limited the Atlanta Hawks to 48 points in the second half, propelling them to the 116-107 win.

“I thought our defense was spectacular,” Willie Green said. “The third and fourth quarters, we held them to 22 and 26 points. Keeping them out of the paint was big for us. I thought we did a great job of getting deflections and getting steals. Once again, it leads to our transition opportunities.”

In their previous three games, the Pelicans restricted the Sacramento Kings to 52 second-half points, the Los Angeles Lakers, 54 points, and the Dallas Mavericks, 41 points.

Since Feb. 2, the Pelicans have a defensive rating of 101.0 (3rd) and an offensive rating of 129.7 (2nd) in the second half.

Herb Jones and Brandon Ingram were at the center of the action against the Hawks.

Following Trae Young accounting for 22 of Atlanta’s 35 first-quarter points on the strength of seven assists against no turnovers, Jones and the rest of New Orleans’ defense went to work, especially after several halftime adjustments.

Atlanta’s go-to pick-and-roll offense, which had sliced and diced the New Orleans defense, sputtered as the Hawks point guard was held to 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting and nine assists versus four turnovers the rest of the way.

“Well, No. 1, being more aggressive in his pick-and-rolls on the ball, trying to make his passes extremely difficult, putting size on him, trying to get deflections and steals,” Green said. “And then mixing up our coverages as far as redding, switching the picks, making him have to play more isolation basketball.”

Jones finished 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but his defensive numbers of eight deflections, three steals and one block may have shined brighter.

“Herb was great,” Green said. “More and more he’s looking like the Herb we are used to seeing. He’s flying around defensively and rebounding the ball. He’s just making smart plays offensively for us.”

With Jones spearheading the defense, Ingram took control on the other end. He began by attacking the lane, racking up 12 points in the first quarter. He took more of a playmaker’s role in the second, finding teammates for three assists.

By the end of the night, Ingram’s stats were akin to a true No. 1 option: 30 points and eight assists. He shot 11-of-18 from the field and 8-of-9 from the foul line. He posted a team-best plus-minus of +13.

Tonight’s performance marked Ingram’s first back-to-back 30-point games of the season. There’s no doubt he’s in a nice groove after needing a few games to find his rhythm following the two-month layoff.

“Excellent,” Green remarked. “Brandon, it’s a difference when he’s on the floor. He’s one of the best players in the game and we’re seeing it over and over again. He’s starting to find his rhythm, and when he does, he’s a tough cover.”

The Pelicans gained the separation needed in the midst of the third quarter. Leading only 73-72 at the 6:53 mark, they went on a 16-4 run. In the fourth, they enjoyed a double-digit lead for the vast majority of time, building a cushion as high as 16 points before settling for the nine-point win.

They dominated in their preferred categories, winning the battles in points in the paint (56-40), fast break points (17-8) and second chance points (22-7) handily.

CJ McCollum finished with 21 points, six rebounds and seven assists, Trey Murphy scored 16 points and knocked down four 3s, and Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds.

The Hawks were led by Bogdan Bogdanovic’s 22 points off the bench. Deandre Hunter missed all nine of his field goal attempts to finish with three points.

Tuesday’s victory marked New Orleans’ third straight, this after dropping 10 consecutive games.

The Pelicans are now eighth in the Western Conference, trailing the Nuggets for first by 9.5 games. However, they sit only 1.5 games behind the Clippers for fourth place.

Up next, the team will wrap up it’s four-game home stand on Friday with a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.