Brandon Ingram, Pelicans take on Rockets

The Houston Rockets probably have seen enough of Brandon Ingram to last them a long time.

But they’ll have to face the Pelicans’ leading scorer again on Tuesday night in New Orleans.

Ingram had 33 points and tied a career high with 12 assists as the Pelicans defeated the Rockets 120-107 Sunday night in Houston. He scored 17 as New Orleans outscored Houston 38-23 in a pivotal third quarter.

The Rockets won the first meeting with the Pelicans this season, 118-108 on Dec. 5 in Houston. Ingram, however, had a season-high 40 points in that game.

“Brandon, he’s better than advertised,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said. “He’s other-worldly talented. He’s just a student of the game. He’s always watching film to find out what he can do to make the team better. It was beautiful basketball to watch tonight.”

The Pelicans have won three straight games. The streak coincides with Ingram’s return from a five-game absence due to an ankle injury. New Orleans went 1-4 in the games he missed but is 7-3 in the past 10 games in which he has played.

In those 10 games, Ingram has averaged 24.5 points, 7.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds.

“I’ve just been encouraged by the work that everybody’s been putting in every single day,” Ingram said. “We always had a goal to get to the playoffs, and it’s looking like a real thing right now.”

New Orleans, which started the season 1-12, moved into the 10th place in the Western Conference with Sunday’s win.

New Orleans is beginning a six-game homestand after winning the final three of four consecutive road games in the past week.

Reserve center Jaxson Hayes, who saw expanded minutes while playing both power forward and center, averaged 17 points and eight rebounds in those four games. He shot 29 of 34 from the floor (85.3 percent).

The Rockets, who have lost six of their past seven games, led the Pelicans by five points at halftime Sunday and scored the first six points of the third quarter. But New Orleans answered with a 13-0 run as Ingram had eight points and an assist.

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“We can’t have a letdown at the beginning of the third quarter when we have a lead,” said Garrison Mathews, who came off the Houston bench to score 18 points.

The Rockets had 18 turnovers, leading to 24 Pelicans points. They had 19 turnovers, leading to 30 San Antonio points in a 131-106 loss to the Spurs on Friday.

“They’re trying to do what’s right,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “They’re trying to make plays. They’re not trying to turn the ball over, but some of them were untimely.”

Though Silas wasn’t pleased with the turnovers, he was encouraged by his team having 28 assists after getting just 15 against San Antonio.

“Sharing the ball was an emphasis, and when we share the ball good things happen and we’re a better team,” said Houston’s Jae’Sean Tate, who scored 15 points on Sunday. “We have to keep that as a main focus and build on it.”

–Field Level Media


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