NEW ORLEANS (AP)Brandon Ingram scored 30 points, CJ McCollum added 21 and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Atlanta Hawks 116-107 on Tuesday night for their third straight victory.
”Brandon, it’s a difference when he’s on the floor. He’s one of the best players in the game and we’re seeing it over and over,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. ”He’s starting to find his rhythm and when he does, he’s a tough cover.”
Ingram has played in five games since sitting out about two months with a left big toe injury. He’s scored at least 30 in each of his past two games, both Pelicans victories.
”I’m able to get my legs under me a little bit and figure out different things,” Ingram said. ”I’m able to score the basketball, but I’m also able to look for the best shot on the floor.”
Ingram ”sets the table for his teammates,” Green said, mentioning Ingram’s eight assists. ”He’s doing a great job of getting to space and then attacking, getting to the paint, getting to the free-throw line, pulling up for his mid-range shots.”
Jonas Valanciunas, returning from a one-game absence because of a sore right quadriceps muscle, had 16 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans.
”They won the hustle game,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. ”Every loose ball, every long rebound, it seemed like they got and we just seemed to be a step slow throughout the night.”
The Pelicans led 111-95 when Trey Murphy III hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 3:24 to go.
Atlanta responded with seven straight points to cut the Pelicans’ lead to nine with 1:49 left. Ingram briefly broke up the run with a driving layup in traffic. But John Collins hit a turnaround and Trae Young hit a 3 from 29 feet to make it a two-possession game with 43 seconds left.
Atlanta then fouled Herb Jones, who hit two free throws and then blocked Bogdan Bogdanovic’s 3-pointer to help the Pelicans hold on.
”I knew they wanted to get 3,” said Jones, who finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and three steals. ”When I saw him going to his shot, I just did what I always do.”
Murphy scored 16 points for the Pelicans, whose current winning streak has come on the heels of a 10-game skid.
”We’re learning that we have the ability to navigate adversity,” Green said. ”We do it together. We stay connected. We don’t point fingers and we just grind it out.”
Bogdanovic scored 22 points for Atlanta. Dejounte Murray, who played despite being listed as questionable with a migraine earlier in the day, scored 19.
”This is a tough team, a tough place to win,” Bogdanovic said. ”They’re finding their groove back and now they’re different than a couple games ago.
”I’m proud of the way we fight. We found the energy to fight,” Bogdanovic added. ”I’m not happy the way we finished the road trip.”
Young had 16 points and 16 assists, and Collins finished with 15 points.
Atlanta missed its first six shots and trailed 12-2 before recovering to tie the game at 23 on Young’s 3-pointer late in the first quarter.
The game remained close for the rest of the half, and the Pelicans led 62-59 at halftime after McCollum hit a 3-pointers on consecutive possessions.
Hawks: Closed out their road trip at 2-3. … Had 30 assists, giving them at least 25 in five straight games, the team’s longest such streak this season. … De’Andre Hunter, who came in having scored at least 10 points in 16 straight, had three points.
Pelicans: All-Star forward Zion Williamson (right hamstring) missed his 19th straight game. Green said Williamson continued to be ”day to day” and that it was unclear whether he would play before the All-Star break. … Outscored Atlanta in the paint, 56-40. … Converted 13 offensive rebounds into 22 second-chance points.
McCollum made an off-balance, double-pump 3 as the shot clock ran out in the fourth quarter.
”In this game, you need a little luck to win,” Ingram said. ”Of course, he’s a good 3-point shooter, but I don’t think we would imagine that one going in.”
Added Murphy: ”Yeah, I haven’t seen him practice that one.”
Hawks: Host Phoenix on Thursday.
Pelicans: Host Cleveland on Friday.
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