OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)Brandon Ingram scored 34 points and the New Orleans Pelicans outlasted the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-100 on Monday night.
Ingram made 14 of 24 field goal attempts and helped New Orleans win even though high-scoring guard CJ McCollum sat out with a sprained right ankle.
”Brandon was phenomenal,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. ”He can get his shot anywhere on the floor. You know, he was patient. … At the end of the day, he had a dominant performance, and we needed his scoring tonight.”
Oklahoma City had a chance to tie in the closing seconds, but Isaiah Joe’s 3-pointer bounced away at the buzzer.
Josh Richardson scored 10 points and made five steals in his first game with the Pelicans since being traded from San Antonio.
”J-Rich was good,” Green said. ”You can see his veteran savviness on the floor. Makes great decisions defensively. … That’s part of what we wanted when we acquired him is bringing in another veteran who can score but who can defend who’s smart on the floor.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Jalen Williams scored 22 points and Joe added 16 for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said his players will need to adjust now that opponents are taking them more seriously.
”They know they have to show up against us, and that’s a good thing, but we’re going to get heavier and heavier punches, and we need to understand the mentality of the opponent for that,” he said.
Ingram scored 23 points in the first half to help the Pelicans take a 60-51 lead at the break. New Orleans led by 20 in the second quarter.
”They were more ready to play,” Daigneault said. ”I thought they threw the first punch. They were more physical, more alert in the first quarter. And it took us a long time to get it going.”
Oklahoma City chipped away in the third. A steal by Josh Giddey led to a fast break, and Williams’ perfect behind-the-back pass to Gilgeous-Alexander led to a two-handed dunk that cut New Orleans’ lead to 72-71. The Pelicans took a 76-73 advantage into the fourth.
New Orleans scored the first eight points of the final quarter, but the Thunder rallied again. Oklahoma City gained possession trailing 101-98 with 35 seconds remaining, but the Thunder turned it over.
The Pelicans took a 103-98 lead with 9.5 seconds to play on a pair of free throws by Trey Murphy III. Williams went downcourt for a quick dunk with 5.3 seconds left, then the Thunder forced a turnover on the inbounds pass to gain possession and set up the final sequence.
Daigneault said it all came down to the way the Thunder started the game.
”You want to focus on controllables and the things that we can control and how we start the game, how physical we are, how alert we are from the onset,” he said. ”We can control that, and we allowed them to get into a pretty good rhythm there early.”
Pelicans: Ingram scored New Orleans’ first 12 points, all in the first 3 1/2 minutes. He finished with 16 in the first quarter. … New Orleans shot 65% in the first quarter to take a 33-25 lead.
Thunder: Gilgeous-Alexander was named Western Conference Player of the Week for helping Oklahoma City win two of three last week. … The Thunder started rookies Jalen Williams and Jaylen Williams together for the fifth time this season. … F/C Jeremiah Robinson-Earl returned after missing 25 games with a sprained right ankle. He went scoreless in 18 minutes.
Pelicans: Visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
Thunder: Host the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
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