Brandon Ingram has 49 as Pelicans survive disputed late call


NEW ORLEANS — Lonzo Ball knew just how to celebrate his friend and teammate’s big night.

Brandon Ingram was still on the court, doing his postgame television interview after pouring in a career-high 49 points and helping the New Orleans Pelicans end the Utah Jazz‘s 10-game winning streak with a wild 138-132 victory on Thursday. So Ball made sure every player in the locker room had a bottle of water. Most grabbed two.

When Ingram walked in, the Pelicans did their best to stay calm before dousing the 22-year-old with water from every direction. Televisions, lockers, the floor — everything was soaked.

Ingram tried to bolt out of the room, but he still got wet.

“Man, I tried to get out as fast I could,” Ingram said with a smile. “I know the first person that threw something on me gotta pay for my next hairdo.”

It was a jovial atmosphere for the Pelicans after what seemed like a surefire victory was put into peril because of a call at the end of regulation.

New Orleans was up 122-121 with 0.2 seconds to go after Ingram hit a shot over Royce O’Neale. Rudy Gobert then drew a foul on Pelicans rookie Jaxson Hayes before the ball was inbounded for Utah.

After an official review, it was determined Hayes did grab Gobert’s arm, sending Gobert to the line.

It was the second time in under two weeks that the officials played a big part in a Jazz-Pelicans game in New Orleans. On Jan. 6, officials ruled that Gobert didn’t foul Ingram on a drive to the basket as time expired and Utah escaped with a two-point win. The NBA’s Last Two Minute report the next day said Gobert made contact with Ingram’s arm and the Pelicans should have had two free throws to try to tie it up.

Utah almost escaped with another victory on Thursday, but Gobert hit only one of two free throws to send the game to overtime.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was fired up about the call but said his players had a calming message on the bench. “They said, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ll win the game in overtime,'” he said.

Pelicans center Derrick Favors, who finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds and had a team-high seven points in the overtime period, said regrouping on the bench helped the team get back in the game.

“I think guys on the bench were just kind of like, ‘Not again,'” Favors said. “We took a minute, took five breaths and said we’ve got to let that go and move on. That’s what we did.”

New Orleans fell behind by as many as five in the overtime period but held Utah scoreless over the final 2:28 to come away with the six-point victory.

The Pelicans made all four field goals they attempted in overtime and went 8-for-14 from the free throw line while Ingram led the charge. Ingram went 5-of-9 from the line but had three drives in the lane where he dropped it off to Favors for easy buckets.

Ingram had 13 points in the third quarter and 14 points in the fourth to help him reach his career high. He went 15-for-25 from the field, 3-for-8 from deep and 16-for-20 from the line (career high in free throws made and attempted).

He joined Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in NBA history to score 49 or more points on 25 or fewer shots before turning 23, and the 49 points are the second most in a game this season by a player with 25 or fewer shot attempts.

“I felt good,” Ingram said. “I think the guys did a good job of seeing me when I was open. I just took whatever the defense gave me, and [Favors] did a really good job on screen-and-roll and just getting my man off me a little bit. … Overall, it felt pretty good.”

Ingram, who is ninth in Western Conference frontcourt All-Star voting, is enjoying a career season in New Orleans. He’s averaging 25.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists — all career highs — while also shooting 48 percent from the field, 40.6 percent from deep and 86 percent from the line.

Ball, who played with Ingram the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers before the two were dealt to New Orleans, fired off a tweet minutes after the game advocating for Ingram to be in the All-Star Game.

“He’s been in the gym the last three years. The only thing that’s slowed him down has been injuries,” Ball said. “This is his fourth year, and he came into his own. It’s Brandon Ingram time now.

“Since I’ve known him, he’s been a confident person. But this year, he’s been on another level. Obviously, he knows he’s our go-to guy on this team and we trust him.”

Ingram’s career night helped the Pelicans stave off a Jazz team that had won 15 of its previous 16 games. It also put a damper on Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell‘s night, as he tied a career high with 46 points.

Just as the Pelicans rode Ingram in the second half, the Jazz went the way Mitchell took them. He scored 36 of his points after halftime but went 2-for-9 in overtime as the Pelicans left with the win.

“Our guys have been terrific in the clutch,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Tonight we’d been getting some stops. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get some key stops and some couple of key defensive rebounds.”

The Jazz had the referee’s whistle go against them in overtime when Gobert fouled out with 1:19 to play with Utah up 132-130. Snyder challenged the call, but after a review, it stood.

In a pool report, crew chief Mark Ayotte said, “We did not see clear and conclusive evidence to overturn the play.”

Favors, who had played with Mitchell the previous two years in Utah, said it was fun to watch the two young guns go at it.

“Donovan was a good player, too. He can make a lot of plays, can shoot the ball really well and attack the rim,” Favors said. “He put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, it’s just the fourth time in the past 10 seasons that two opposing players have scored at least 45 points in the same game.

With the win, New Orleans improved to 9-3 since Dec. 23 with only the Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Jazz having better records over that time. Zion Williamson is expected to make his debut next week — and the Pelicans have the easiest remaining schedule in the league, according to ESPN’s BPI.

So the only bad thing to look at postgame was Ingram falling a point short of his first career 50-point game. That’s not something he’s too worried about, though.

“No, [the chance for 50] will come again,” Ingram said. “My mom is gonna be more upset than me. But it will come again.”

Source : ESPN