NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brandon Ingram and the New Orleans Pelicans acknowledged that the emotions that came with losing teammates they care about personally in a significant trade might have contributed to a slow start against the reeling Houston Rockets.
Ingram eventually found his rhythm, scoring 26 points on a variety of drives, pull-up jumpers and 3s, and the Pelicans beat the Rockets 110-97 on Tuesday night to extend their winning streak to four games.
“Today, the whole day was kind of difficult,” Ingram said. “We lose some great players and some really good guys.”
The Pelicans were playing their first game since agreeing to a trade earlier Tuesday that will bring guard CJ McCollum to New Orleans. While McCollum was not yet available to play, the deal meant New Orleans had to play without prominent regulars Josh Hart and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who’ve been dealt to Portland as part of the trade that includes seven players and three draft picks in all.
Having not flown west yet, Hart and Alexander-Walker showed up at the game, sitting next to each other in courtside seats. Hart wore a red Pelicans jersey with Ingram’s No. 14 on it. The pair received an enthusiastic ovation from the crowd when shown together on the video board.
“It meant the world to me to see Josh and Nickeil on the sideline and still cheering us on to show us how real of a fan they are of us,” Ingram said. “It’s just weird seeing them on the sideline not playing with us … but I definitely love the support. I think I would have done the same thing if I was in their shoes.”
Rookie Herb Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double for the Pelicans, who led for most of the game and by as many as 19 points when Ingram’s 15-foot pull-up jumper made it 106-87 in the fourth…