by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher

An unusual Friday night from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans as the heat wouldn’t leave the outside weather, but the New Orleans Pelicans ran away from the pesky Detroit Pistons 109-93 despite a first half deficit.

“We just picked up our intensity. In the first quarter, I thought they played harder and faster. They got inside the paint, kicked out for threes, and made shots,” said New Orleans Pelicans (8-20) first year head coach Willie Green. “You can see in the middle of the second quarter, we just started to pick it up. We did a really  good job getting into their guys and everybody getting into a shift with maximum effort.”

Pelicans All-Star and NBA Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram notched 26 points, three rebounds, five assists and two blocks. He scored 24 points in the first half, shooting 8-of-14 from the floor and 4-of-6 from behind the arc, but it wasn’t until 1:10 in the half that the Pelicans were tied after Ingram’s free throws.

In the third quarter, New Orleans outscored Detroit 29-12, converting 10-of-23 from the floor, 5-of-11 from three-point range and a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe, while the Pistons only shot 5-of-24 from the field, 2-of-9 from deep range and did not attempt a free throw in the frame.  The Pelicans outscored Detroit 19-7 in fast break points.

New Orleans started the fourth quarter on a 16-5 run, which gave them a 99-72 lead. The Pelicans would not trail at any point again in the game.

“We’re able to get after it on the defensive end, with Herb (Jones) and Josh (Hart) being after the best players on the floor. It
helps our offense out a lot,” expressed Ingram. “We have different guys that can push into transition to push our pace. That’s our easiest offense.”

Pelicans Guard Josh Hart finished the game with 14 points, a season-high 13 rebounds, five assists and a steal. He shot a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. This marks his third double-double of the season.

New Orleans Center Jonas Valančiūnas finished with 17 points, 11 boards and three assists. This marks his 21st double-double of the season.

The Pelicans play on the road for the next two games in San Antonio Sunday and Oklahoma City Wednesday, but will return home Friday night against the 2021 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks at 7pm.