NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday figured the Pelicans’ free-flowing, up-tempo offense would flourish if they could start more possessions by getting stops on the defensive end.
Recent evidence backs up that proposition.
Ingram scored 24 points, Holiday added 20, and suddenly resurgent New Orleans beat the Indiana Pacers 120-98 on Saturday night for their third straight victory.
“It’s important for us to think defense first,” Ingram said. “Everybody is feeling pretty comfortable in what they’re doing on the defensive end and that’s leading to a rhythm on offense. … The confidence is just flowing all around the room.”
JJ Redick scored 15 and Lonzo Ball 13, hitting four of eight 3-point shots as he continues to gain comfort with his new shooting motion this season.
“I’m just trying to make shots when it’s open,” Ball said.
Derrick Favors added 10 points and 16 rebounds as New Orleans won for the fourth time in five games after having lost a franchise-record 13 straight before that. In each of their four recent victories, the Pelicans have allowed 100 or fewer points.
“Just a learning process that we had to go through,” Holiday said, alluding to a New Orleans roster comprised mostly of new players, including four new starters. “Defensively, man, we just built chemistry and have been able to go from there.
“It gives us a lot of confidence now,” Holiday added. “Going through obstacles is something that happens all the time in this league, so being able to push through together is a good thing.”
Aaron Holiday scored 25 points and T.J. Warren 20 for the Pacers, who have started strong overall this season but have stumbled of late, losing three of four, including in Miami on Friday night.
“They were trying to run us out the gym and then we had a tough one last night,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “The pace was a little fast.
Domantas Sabonis had 15 points and 16 rebounds for the Pacers, but Indiana managed to make just 38.8% of its shots (33 of 85) and committed 18 turnovers that the Pelicans’ up-tempo offense turned into 24 points.
“We just needed to control the tempo tonight, but we couldn’t hit any shots,” McMillan said.
New Orleans, by contrast, combined for 18 3s and the Pelicans shot 46.2% (43 of 93) overall.
Indiana led by 13 after closing the first quarter on a 9-0 run that included Sabonis’ 3 and pair of free throws.
But Holiday’s driving layup began a 9-0 Pelicans run to open the second quarter. Moore hit a 3 and Holiday capped the spurt with a turnaround jumper to cut the Pacers’ lead to 32-28.
New Orleans edged back in front when Redick’s free throws capped a 6-0 spurt to make it 41-39, and the Pelicans maintained a slim lead from there before pulling away by outscoring Indiana 30-13 during the last eight minutes of the third quarter.
Pacers: Missed 22 of 28 from 3-point range. … Jeremy Lamb missed 10 of 12 shots, including all four 3s he attempted and finished with seven points. … Indiana had just three players score 10 or more. … Myles Turner and Doug McDermott each scored nine points.
Pelicans: Josh Hart and E’Twaun Moore each scored 11, with Moore hitting three times from deep. … Ingram and Holiday each assisted on seven baskets. … New Orleans has played better defense lately, allowing fewer than 102 points per game during its last six games and going 4-2 in that stretch.
With Jrue Holiday playing for New Orleans and his brothers Justin and Aaron playing for Indiana, the family was able to make NBA history when all three brothers were in the same game at the same time.
“It was cool. I beat ‘em and I got their jerseys,” Jrue Holiday said, noting that he and his brothers also had a lot of family and friends at the game. “Really just to have a moment together like that — I mean, all three of us have never been on the court together at the same time just because of age difference.”
While Justin Holiday, 30, and Jrue, 29, are about 14 months apart, Aaron is 23.
“Hopefully the next thing, we’ll have red, white and blue on and be playing on the same team,” Jrue Holiday said.
Pacers: Host Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Pelicans: Host Houston on Sunday night.
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