(AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans are coming off their worst performance of the season.
And they might not have star forward Brandon Ingram available when they try to bounce back in a game against the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
Ingram suffered a sprained left big toe in a 132-111 loss at Memphis on Friday night. Coach Willie Green said Sunday that Ingram is day to day.
The Pelicans had won five of six games, but the Grizzlies raced to a 27-9 lead and remained in command throughout.
Green gave credit to Memphis for the way it played from beginning to end.
“They came in right away from the start of the game and just played with more force,” Green said. “They knocked down a lot of shots. They basically got whatever they wanted — 3s, points in the paint, they got to the free-throw line.”
The 44 points that the Grizzlies scored in the first quarter were the most allowed by the Pelicans in any quarter this season.
“We have to come out ready to play,” Green said. “We weren’t. That starts with me having our team prepared, having us ready. Our game-plan discipline wasn’t up to par. They were the better team tonight. Our overall effort just wasn’t there.”
Ingram is averaging 20.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He is shooting 46.7 percent on 3-pointers. The Pelicans also are missing CJ McCollum, who was placed in the NBA health and safety protocols before Friday’s game.
The Thunder’s last game didn’t go much better than the Pelicans’.
Their 118-105 loss at Houston on Saturday night wasn’t as close as the final score might suggest.
The Rockets seized command in the second quarter in similar fashion to how Memphis seized command against the Pelicans in the first.
Houston made 7 of 11 3-pointers while outscoring Oklahoma City 42-22 in the second quarter on its way to a 65-44 halftime lead.
“They took it to us, they threw the first punch,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “They kept coming. I thought they played with great force on offense and they played stout defense. So credit them, they took it to us.”
Houston shot 52.3 percent from the floor for the game, hitting 18 of 36 3-pointers, and led by as many as 27 points.
“Our defense wasn’t what it should have been and needed to be to win a game,” said guard Josh Giddey, who scored 18 points for the Thunder. “They capitalized. Slow starts have been a common theme. We got to flip the switch and come out of the gates ready to go.”
Oklahoma City wasn’t much better on the offensive end, as it lost for the fourth time in five games. It made 10 of 44 (22.7 percent) 3-pointers.
“We didn’t have the energy on that end of the floor, or the defensive end,” Daigneault said, “to create the type of rhythm that Houston was able to create.”
Much of the Thunder’s offensive rhythm came from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, as is often the case. Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered Sunday third in the NBA with an average of 31.1 points, had 32, while shooting 12 of 21 from the floor and 7 of 7 from the foul line.
–Field Level Media