Pelicans ride Brandon Ingram’s breakout into tilt vs. Kings

Brandon Ingram has regained his form, and the New Orleans Pelicans’ long losing streak is over.

Ingram returned from a two-month absence due to a toe injury and struggled offensively for most of his first four games back, which were part of a 10-game losing streak.

But in his fifth game back he scored a season-high 35 points as the Pelicans won for the first time since Jan. 13 by beating the visiting Los Angeles Lakers, 131-126 on Saturday.

The Pelicans will try to win consecutive games for the first time since completing a five-game winning streak on Dec. 30 as they host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.

Ingram didn’t score in the first quarter after going to the bench with two early fouls, but he dominated the last three quarters and had six points during his team’s closing 11-6 run.

He missed all three of his 3-point attempts but made 15 of 25 2-point attempts and added five rebounds and four assists.

“(Ingram) makes the game a lot easier for me,” said Trey Murphy III, who had 21 points for New Orleans. “I just really enjoy having him out there. He’s one of the top players in the league.”

The Pelicans trailed 106-103 after three quarters but found their defense and outscored the Lakers 28-20 in the fourth quarter.

“We just came out and played with a sense of urgency,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Every guy on our team that touched the floor came in and played with force and played with confidence. That is what is going to take for us to get over the hump.”

The Kings couldn’t get over the hump Friday night when they lost to the host Indiana Pacers 107-104 as both teams failed to score in the final two minutes.

Sacramento played without starting point guard De’Aaron Fox, who sat out for personal reasons, and committed seven of its 20 turnovers in the final period.

“We were just careless with the ball,” said Harrison Barnes, who led the Kings with 23 points. “Twenty turnovers (leading to 23 points) — it’s hard to play defense against live-ball turnovers. We knew that they were a steals team. We knew that was going to be an up-and-down game, and I think that they did a better job of taking care of the ball.”

Davion Mitchell started in Fox’s place and had three points and one assist in 22 minutes before head coach Mike Brown decided to go without him down the stretch.

Shooting guard Malik Monk was the primary ball handler at the end. But he had three turnovers in the fourth quarter, including one with 58 seconds left and the Kings having a chance to tie with a 3-pointer.

“That one did it, man,” Monk said of his last turnover.

Brown took responsibility as Sacramento fell to 2-2 on its season-long seven-game road trip.

“At the end of the day, I was terrible,” Brown said.

This is the first meeting between the Kings and Pelicans this season. They will meet again March 6 in Sacramento and April 4 in New Orleans.

–Field Level Media