Valanciunas and Ingram lead Pelicans past Rockets to snap three-game skid
HOUSTON (AP) — Jonas Valanciunas scored 25 points, Brandon Ingram added 24 and the duo combined for 24 rebounds to help the New Orleans Pelicans snap a three-game skid with a 110-99 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
New Orleans led by five to start the fourth quarter before scoring the next 15 points to make it 99-79 with just under 6 1/2 minutes remaining. Jose Alvarado hit a 3-pointer during that stretch and Valanciunas had six points to help the Pelicans pad their lead.
The Rockets missed eight shots and committed two turnovers in the fourth before Fred VanVleet scored their first points on a jump shot halfway through the period.
“That group that was in the game did a great job of getting stops,” coach Willie Green said. “We were getting open looks or we were finishing in the paint. We talk about Jonas, he got us going.”
Houston's Jalen Green was disappointed his team let the game get away after entering the final quarter within striking distance.
“We just didn’t get (any) stops,” he said. “We weren't scoring and they were doing whatever they want.”
The Pelicans were up by 18 before Houston used an 11-1 spurt, with 3s from VanVleet, Green and Dillon Brooks, to cut it to 105-97 with about two minutes to go.
But then Trey Murphy III made a 3 for New Orleans a few seconds later to end Houston’s run.
“We just continued offensively with our force and our pace,” Willie Green said. “We didn’t allow their physicality to disrupt us offensively. Solid effort on both ends of the court.”
Jalen Green led the Rockets with 31 points, and VanVleet added 16.
“Some guys had tough nights there and didn't play with energy,” Houston coach Ime Udoka said. “It's tough when a lot of guys aren't playing well overall.”
Willie Green raved about the work of Valanciunas with Williamson sidelined.
“He was fantastic,” the coach said. “JV was really locked in and focused on doing what was needed to help us win the game.”
The Pelicans were up by seven at halftime and opened the third quarter on a 10-3 run, with six points from Ingram, to extend the lead to 71-57 with about eight minutes left in the period.
Green scored five points in a 9-2 surge after that to get the Rockets within 73-66 with about 5 1/2 minutes to go in the third.
New Orleans was up by eight after a 3 by Naji Marshall later in the quarter before Houston scored the next six points, capped by a two-handed dunk by rookie Cam Whitmore, to cut the lead to 79-77 with about 1 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.
But the Pelicans ended the third with a 5-2 spurt to take an 84-79 lead into the fourth.
Jabari Smith Jr. had a tough night for the Rockets in his second game back after missing four with an ankle injury. He went 0 for 6 and had just one rebound.
Pelicans: Visit the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.
Rockets: Host the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.
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