Ingram, Valanciunas pace Pelicans past Wizards, 127-102
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brandon Ingram and the New Orleans Pelicans looked determined to redeem themselves after a listless, sloppy performance earlier this week marked the nadir of an already dismal start to the season.
Ingram scored 26 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 21 points and 11 rebounds, and the Pelicans won for just the fourth time, beating the Washington Wizards 127-102 on Wednesday night.
“I like that we responded,” Ingram said, referring to a 110-96 loss to Minnesota on Monday in which he shot 2 of 13. “It looked like we took it personal, came out with a little more pop today.”
Josh Hart highlighted his 16-point performance with a running half-court bank shot as he was fouled in the final second of the third quarter.
The shot “definitely helped our momentum at the end of that quarter,” Ingram said. “It was definitely needed at that time in the game.”
The four-point play gave New Orleans a 95-73 lead, and the Pelicans all but put it away when Nickeil Alexander-Walker and center Willy Hernangomez hit back-to-back 3s to make it 103-75 with 8:59 left. The lead grew as large as 31.
The convincing victory was gratifying for first-year coach Willie Green, who’d said his team didn’t look ready to play two nights earlier and assigned much of the blame to himself.
“I just didn’t think we played as hard as we are capable of and I didn’t coach to my ability and that’s a letdown to our organization, to our community, to our team and I spoke to the team about that,” Green said. “I’m proud of the way they responded.”
Bradley Beal scored 23 points but got little help from the rest of the Wizards, who lost for the fourth time in five games. Spencer Dinwiddie added 11 points and Montrezl Harrell had 10 points and nine rebounds. Washington also committed 19 turnovers, leading to 24 Pelicans points.
“Turnovers early really put us in a bind,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “We knew going in if we turned the ball over against this team and they were able to get out and run; that’s when they’re at their best.”
The Pelicans’ “overall energy and effort was better,” Unseld added. “They were more physical and more aggressive — on both ends — and it showed.”
Wizards: Davis Bertans returned from a 10-game absence caused by a left ankle sprain. He played 19 minutes in a reserve role and scored just three points on 1-of-10 shooting. ... The Wizards committed 19 turnovers, which led to 24 Pelicans points. ... The Wizards missed 13 of 36 free throws. ... Washington dropped to 4-5 on the road.
Pelicans: Devonte’ Graham scored 12 points in his first action since missing three games with left foot soreness. ... Hernangomez had 13 points and Alexander-Walker scored 12. ... The Pelicans scored 72 points in the first half, marking the first time this season New Orleans had scored as many as 70 points in a half. New Orleans finished with a season high for points and a season-high 33 assists. ... New Orleans shot 46.3% from the field (44 of 95), went 12 of 29 from 3-point range, made 27 of 32 free throws and committed 11 turnovers.
New Orleans had its first double-digit lead less than four minutes into the game.
Ingram, who made five of his first seven shots, hit a 17-foot turnaround that made it 25-9. He added two more jumpers and a layup in the first six minutes of the second quarter, helping New Orleans take a 51-35 lead.
“Brandon was great,” Green said. “Any time he had scoring opportunities, he just took advantage of them and he did it with pace, with force.”
Consecutive 3s by Graham gave New Orleans its first lead of more than 20 at 62-38. And Valanciunas, who scored 17 points in the first half, added a dunk, a tip-in and a pair of free throws to help the Pelicans take a 72-50 lead into halftime.
The Wizards hurt their own cause in the opening half with 13 turnovers, which led to 17 Pelicans points.
The hole could have been in a deeper hole if not for Beal, who made nine of his first 13 shots for 19 points, including a long, bail-out jumper off an inbound pass from the corner as the shot clock wound down.
Wizards: Visit Oklahoma City on Friday night for the second stop on a four-game road trip.
Pelicans: Visit Utah Friday night for the first of three road games in four nights.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports