Ingram, Williamson, power Pelicans past Cavaliers, 116-82
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brandon Ingram scored 28 points, Zion Williamson added 23 and the New Orleans Pelicans bounced back from a lopsided loss with a 116-82 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
“The energy in the room was good,” Ingram said about the locker room before the game. “We knew exactly what we wanted to do. We played loose. We played free. Everybody got to their strengths on the basketball court.”
Ingram played just 25 minutes and Williamson 18 because of how lopsided the game became. Steven Adams had 10 points and 17 rebounds in his 21 minutes on the court.
The Cavs welcomed forwards Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. back to the lineup after extended absences. Both announced their returns with early 3s. But their roles were relatively limited and did not significantly influence the result against a Pelicans squad determined to redeem itself after a demoralizing 30-point loss to Minnesota a night earlier.
“It’s a pretty natural response,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We were all embarrassed. I was embarrassed. They were embarrassed. … Our guys are resilient and they respond to games like that pretty well, but you just don’t want to have to have a response.”
Love, who’d missed 33 games since injuring his right calf in late December, played 10 minutes and had four points and a rebound. He also got caught a step behind Williamson a couple times on the defensive end.
“It just felt great to feel like I was playing meaningful basketball,” Love said. “Just happy more than anything to be out there. I could have shot 0 for 50 and I would have been fine with it.
“It’ll probably take me a few, couple weeks maybe to feel like myself, but just wanted to get out there and get up and down the floor more than anything.”
Nance, who missed 12 games after injuring his left hand, had 11 points, four rebounds and a block in 28 minutes.
Collin Sexton scored 19 points, which proved inconsequential in a game that saw New Orleans take a 100-60 lead with about seven minutes remaining.
“That grit and scrap could have been better,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “You can live with some of the mistakes of guys not being used to playing with one another. We have guys who have been out for months … but our focus needs to be on that grit and how hard we play.”
New Orleans built a 21 point lead by halftime and widened that during a third quarter that saw Cleveland hit just two of 23 shots and score a total of nine points. The Cavs shot just 34.1 % (30 of 88) for the game, missing 25 of 32 from 3-point range.
“They were just struggling tonight to find rhythm and all that sort of stuff,” Adams said of the Cavs. “But we’ll take a bloody win.”
Williamson’s highlights included an alley-oop dunk over Love and a reverse layup as he was fouled by Love. Williamson later added a floater after drawing a foul from JaVale McGee with an in-air ball fake. The first-time Pelicans All-Star also mixed in a couple of the feisty put-backs for which he’s become known since making his NBA debut in the middle of last season.
Ingram hit three 3-pointers, added some mid-range jumpers and also attacked the rim, most notably when sank a left-handed finger-roll off the glass after soaring across the paint.
Pelicans reserve center Jaxson Hayes scored all of his season-high 13 points in the first half, highlighted by a pair of alley-oop dunks.
Cavaliers: Newly signed guard Quinn Cook had 13 points in 16 1/2 minutes. He was 3 of 4 from 3-point range and 8 of 8 overall. … Center Jarrett Allen blocked three shots and grabbed seven rebounds. … Cedi Ausman missed eight of nine shots, including all six 3s he took.
Pelicans: Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 15 points. … With his 10th point of the night, Ingram, now in his fifth season, reached 5,000 career points in his 290th game. … Outscored Cleveland 66-40 in the paint. … Outrebounded the Cavs 70-33.
New Orleans shot 6 of 24 from 3-point range, one night after going 6 of 32.
“Our 3-point shooting in March has been not good,” Van Gundy said. “Those troubles continued, so it’s not like we just had a hot shooting night. We actually really struggled from the perimeter. We did it with our defense and our rebounding tonight.”
Cavaliers: Visit Atlanta on Sunday in the second stop of a three-game road swing.
Pelicans: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night in the last of three homes games in four nights before embarking on a three-game trip.
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By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer