NEW ORLEANS (AP) — With Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram each having their highest-scoring games of the season, there was only so much Washington’s Bradley Beal could do in response.
Ingram and Williamson each scored 32 points and New Orleans beat the depleted Wizards 124-106 on Wednesday night.
“Brandon and Zion were both very unselfish,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said with a nod to Ingram’s eight assists and Williamson’s willingness to pass instead of forcing shots when the defense collapsed on him.
“That’s something that those guys want to do,” Van Gundy said. “They helped their teammates win and they still put up big numbers.”
Beal, the NBA’s leading scorer, almost single-handedly kept the reeling Wizards in striking distance with 47 points.
“I try to come out and play with energy every night. Whatever it looks like at the end, it looks like,” Beal said. “I don’t come out and say I want to score 50 tonight. … That doesn’t happen. A lot of the (stuff) I’m doing, I’m in awe of it half the time, too.”
Washington got as close as eight points in the middle of the fourth quarter before the Pelicans pulled away in the final five minutes, highlighted by Williamson’s soaring dunk of Ingram’s lob from behind the 3-point line.
Ingram finished with a season-high seven 3-pointers on 12 attempts, making all five he attempted in the second half.
“I got a little rhythm and I just took the shots they gave me,” Ingram said.
Williamson did most of his scoring in the paint and added eight free throws to help New Orleans win for just the second time in 10 games.
“We both know we’re great players,” Williamson said of himself and Ingram. “But if we’re going to take it to that next level, we’ve got to start running off some wins.”
Eric Bledsoe scored 18 points and Steven Adams grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds for New Orleans, which never trailed and made 17 3-pointers.
“My teammates taking all those 3s really opened up the game for me and it just really worked out,” Williamson said.
Garrison Mathews scored 15 points and Robin Lopez had 14 for Washington, which played without guard Russell Westbrook and lost for the sixth time in seven games.
New Orleans led by as many as 26 when Ingram’s 15-foot pull-up made it 74-48. But Beal willed Washington back into the game.
Beal’s 24 points in the third quarter — during which he made four of five 3-point shots — helped the Wizards cut it to 94-80 by the end of the period.
“The winning spirit that he has is critical to our future success,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “To go through it now and still not give in is huge. It’s huge for me. It’s huge for our staff and it’s huge for our team going forward. We know that we’re going to be healthy and everything’s going to be much better when we have our entire group.”
Wizards: Westbrook, the Wizards’ second-leading scorer, was scratched for rest after playing a night earlier in Houston. However, Brooks did not rule out playing Westbrook on back-to-back nights later this season. … Washington also was missing six players because of health and safety protocols. … Brooks elected to give 6-foot-8, 216-pound Jordan Bell his first start of the season in an effort to match up better with the size of New Orleans’ frontcourt. Bell had 11 rebounds and four points.
Pelicans: Adams has now had at least 16 rebounds in a game twice this season. … Guard Lonzo Ball did not return to the game after checking out late in the second quarter. The club said he had a sprained ankle. … Reserve guard Josh Hart had eight rebounds, his ninth time this season with at least that many.
The Wizards’ Alex Len was called for a flagrant foul early in the fourth quarter when he grabbed Williamson by the shoulder with his left hand and right bicep with his right hand and pulled the Pelicans star to the floor as he tried to drive toward the hoop. Williamson was briefly in a prone position before getting up with a smile.
Len wound up fouling out with 5:38 left.
Wizards: Host Atlanta on Friday to open a two-game homestand.
Pelicans: Host Milwaukee on Friday in the second of five straight home games.
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