DENVER (AP)Brandon Ingram had 31 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his third triple-double of the season and the New Orleans Pelicans took advantage of Nikola Jokic’s absence to beat the Denver Nuggets 107-88 on Thursday night.
Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 12 rebounds and CJ McCollum scored 23 points for New Orleans. The Pelicans tied Minnesota for seventh in the West with their sixth victory in seven games.
“We know that they’re missing a huge component to the team in Jokic but it’s important for us no matter who’s on the floor we execute on both ends of the floor,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said. “I thought we did that.”
Jokic was in street clothes due to lingering calf tightness that bothered him Monday night in a victory over Philadelphia.
“When you’re playing with the MVP, things are a lot easier,” Denver coach Michael Malone said.
Jamal Murray had 21 points for Denver, and Bruce Brown added 19. The Nuggets lead in the Western Conference dropped to three games over Memphis with six to play.
“I don’t think about it that much, just trying to win ever night,” Brown said. “Because we’ve got a little lead we’re focused on us trying to play our best every night.”
Malone said after the game that Murray, who played 36 minutes, may not play Friday night in Phoenix and Jokic’s status is to be determined.
Malone added that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was almost held out because he wasn’t feeling good but he gutted out 28 minutes.
Denver’s offense struggled without its leading scorer, rebounder and assist man, managing just 40 points in the first half on 34.8% shooting. The Nuggets were 4 of 28 from 3-point range on the night and scored 28 points below their season average.
“We just didn’t make shots,” Brown said. “We shot 14 percent from three and terrible from the free-throw line. That was the game.”
Two of Ingram’s triple-doubles have come in the last five games.
“He’s playing at a high level,” Green said. “Everybody’s getting the opportunity to see him display his game and we’re putting the ball in his hands a lot more, allowing him to be a playmaker.”
Pelicans: F Zion Williamson missed his 40th consecutive game with a hamstring injury. He will be re-evaluated Wednesday. … New Orleans committed five fouls in the first half and 11 in the third quarter.
Nuggets: Missed their first nine shot attempts before Gordon’s layup with 7:42 left in the first quarter. … Michael Porter Jr. was 0 for 7 from 3-point range. … G Reggie Jackson, signed after he was bought out by Charlotte in February, has not played in the last four games.
Pelicans: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
Nuggets: At Phoenix on Friday night.
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