Ingram scores 31 as Pelicans surprise Nuggets 112-110

Pat Graham Ap Sports Writer
Thursday, December 26, 2019
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New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, right, is defended by Denver Nuggets guard Monte Morris during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, in Denver. The Pelicans won 112-100.

DENVER (AP) — Brandon Ingram had no clue how many 3-pointers he’d made until a voice from across the locker room informed him.

Seven. An assist to injured rookie Zion Williamson for providing the pertinent information.

Ingram scored 31 points, including a career-high in 3-pointers, and the New Orleans Pelicans surprised Denver 112-100 on Wednesday night to halt the Nuggets’ seven-game winning streak.

Rarely has Ingram’s shot felt as pure as it did — from deep anyway.

“It’s been college and high school,” Ingram said of his long-range accuracy. “They (teammates) found me when I was open. I had the confidence to knock it down.”

The 9-23 Pelicans are now 2-0 against the Nuggets this season. They spoiled the festive mood at the Pepsi Center as the Nuggets played at home on Christmas for the first time in 25 years.

“The character of our guys showed that although our record is what it is, we continue to play,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “We will continue to play. I don’t see any quit in these guys or anything like that. There’s no fragmentation or anything like that.”

New Orleans sprang the upset despite committing 19 turnovers that led to 27 points. The Pelicans pulled away late courtesy of the long-range shooting of Lonzo Ball and Ingram. They also out-rebounded the Nuggets, which included 14 offensive boards.

Derrick Favors was a force in grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out a career-best eight assists to go with eight points.

“He was huge,” said Jrue Holiday, who had 20 points, six steals and eight assists. “We ask him to do a lot, but he’s doing it.”

New Orleans finished a four-game trip with a 3-1 mark, which includes consecutive wins for the first time in a month.

This was the first time the Nuggets have hosted on the holiday since 1994 when they beat Seattle 105-96 in front of a sold-out crowd at McNichols Arena. The fans at Pepsi Center didn’t leave in a particularly merry mood.

Then again, in the five Christmas games Wednesday, the home teams went 2-3.

“We got bullied on the boards. They dominated us with their physicality,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We don’t have a match-up for Ingram. So I’ve got to do a better job helping our guys out.”

Neither team led by more than eight points until Ball’s 3-pointer with 4:07 remaining made it 104-95. That all but sealed the win.

Nikola Jokic finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, while Jerami Grant had 17.

The Pelicans also knocked off the Nuggets 122-107 on Halloween.

“They did the same stuff they did the first time we played them,” Gary Harris said. “We didn’t bring the fight today.”

This looked like an entertaining matchup when the NBA schedules were released. But that was before Williamson had surgery to repair the lateral meniscus in his right knee on Oct. 21. On Wednesday, Williamson sat on the bench dressed in a dark suit.

The Pelicans have struggled without Williamson, while the Nuggets (21-9) have soared to one of the top marks in the West.

Williamson did provide some valuable information to Ingram, who knew he made a few 3-pointers but didn’t know the total.

“That,” Ingram said, “was when I found out.”

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