NEW ORLEANS (AP)Brandon Ingram scored 32 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs 119-84 on Tuesday night.
“I just continued to attack,” said Ingram, who made all 10 of his free throws. “I was good at the free-throw line today and just concentrating on my shot and trying to knock them down. Thank you to the referees.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans, who led by as many as 36 points before closing out their second straight victory.
“JV, whether he scores of not, when he touches the ball in the post, he creates offense for us,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “So there’s times when we’ve just got to throw it down to him and allow him to operate.”
Trey Murphy III scored 17, and CJ McCollum added 15 points. Ingram scored 16 in the third quarter, when New Orleans widened a 25-point halftime lead to 31.
“BI had it going right away. I thought getting to the free-throw line helped him develop more of a rhythm and he was big time for us,” Green said. “Just reading the game, reading what the defense is giving you – he’s exploiting it.”
New Orleans entered the day a game behind Oklahoma City and Utah for the ninth and 10th spots in the Western Conference. The Jazz were idle Tuesday night, while the Thunder played the Clippers in Los Angeles.
“The Western Conference is a tight race; it’s going to come down probably to the last few games of the season and we want to pile up as many wins as we can,” Green said. “We’re in a decent spot. We’ve just got to go take care of business.”
Sandro Mamukelashvili scored 20 points for the Spurs, who had previously slipped well out of realistic contention for a postseason berth. Devin Vassell, who scored 29 points in a victory over Atlanta on Sunday, was scratched to rest his previously injured left knee.
“It was going to be a very difficult night,” Spurs coach Gregg Popvich said. “We started off pretty well, but as the game went along, Ingram and CJ took over. They did a great job.”
“We didn’t have our best night, they played well, end of story,” Popovich added.
Tre Jones and former Pelican Devonte’ Graham each scored 15 for San Antonio, and Keita Bates-Diop had 12 points.
The Pelicans took their first double-digit lead late in the first quarter after Ingram and McCollum combined for 11 points during a 13-2 run that made it 27-16.
New Orleans opened the second quarter on a 10-2 run, highlighted by Murphy’s alley-oop dunk.
Murphy’s 3 gave New Orleans a 20-point lead late in the quarter and McCollum closed out the first half with a floater and a 3 to put the Pelicans up 64-39.
Spurs: Rookie F Jeremy Sochan missed his second straight game since aggravating a sore right knee in the first quarter of last Friday’s game against Memphis. … Shot just 34.5% (30 of 87) overall, including 13 of 41 from 3-point range.
New Orleans: Josh Richardson, whom the Pelicans acquired in exchange for Graham in February, scored 10 points. … Swept the Spurs in a season series for the first time in team history. … Outrebounded San Antonio 59-46.
Spurs: Visit Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
Pelicans: Host Charlotte on Thursday night.
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