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Ingram leads Pelicans to win over Thunder


New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, front right, drives past Oklahoma City Thunder’s Al Horford, rear right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

By MURRAY EVANS Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Brandon Ingram had 20 points and seven rebounds before being ejected in the third quarter and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-80 on Thursday night.

Eric Bledsoe added 17 points and Lonzo Ball had 16 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for New Orleans, which lost all four of its games last season to the Thunder. But in their first meeting this season, the Pelicans built an 11-point halftime lead and never were seriously threatened after that.

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“Early in the year, we’re trying to get better,” New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ve been struggling offensively so it was good to see the ball go in the basket. It was good to score some points. I thought our defense was pretty good overall. It was just a good night and we need to keep moving forward. The games come fast and furious here.”

Oklahoma City, which lost its third straight game — all at home — after winning its season opener at Charlotte, had won 10 of its 12 previous games on New Year’s Eve. Al Horford led the Thunder with 17 points and six rebounds.

The Pelicans led 77-67 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter when Bledsoe’s arm caught Isaiah Roby across the face as Roby looked for a layup on a fast break. Officials ruled it a flagrant foul and ejected Ingram, but Roby missed both free throws and Oklahoma City came no closer than seven points the rest of the quarter.

The Pelicans extended their lead to 85-73 entering the fourth quarter and continued pulling away, eventually leading by as many as 33 points while matching their season high in scoring.

Steven Adams, in his first game against the Thunder after being traded during the offseason, had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Hart added 12 points and 11 rebounds.


Pelicans: New Orleans posted a 58-40 rebounding advantage … Ingram entered the game averaging 10.3 points this season during the third quarter and had eight against the Thunder before his ejection … JJ Redick and Oklahoma City’s Hamidou Diallo each were slapped with a technical foul in the third quarter after jawing at each other.

Thunder: George Hill returned to the starting lineup after missing Tuesday’s loss to Orlando due to neck spasms … The Thunder matched their season high with 15 3-pointers (in 48 attempts).


Thunder coach Mark Daigneault, on his team’s high volume of 3-point attempts: “(The Pelicans) are really aggressive with their on-ball defense and on help defense, and that leaves the perimeter open. I keep telling the team we’ve got to take what the defense gives us. If you have open 3s, you’ve got to take them. You’d like to have a bit more balance, and I thought there were times we tried to do too much with the ball, but overall we took good shots.”


Adams spent seven seasons in Oklahoma City, where the New Zealand native became a fan favorite. The Thunder posted a tribute video to Adams on social media before the game and during pregame introductions, they turned up the fake crowd noise in the arena to simulate extra applause for Adams.


Pelicans: Will begin a four-game homestand on Saturday against Toronto.

Thunder: Will begin a five-game road swing on Saturday in Orlando, four days after losing to the Magic in Oklahoma City.

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