The Oklahoma City Thunder outlasted the New Orleans Pelicans 107-104 Sunday evening at the Smoothie King Center.
The Thunder have beaten the Pelicans in all three of their meetings this season and twice this weekend, as Oklahoma City topped New Orleans 109-104 Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Oklahoma City jumped out to an early 14-point lead in the first quarter, but the Pelicans recovered to make it a back-and-forth affair down the stretch. Steven Adams scored seven of the Thunder's 10 points in the last three minutes of regulation to secure the victory.
Five of Adams' points came at the free-throw line despite entering the game as a 40 percent shooter from there.
For all the success the Thunder have had against the Pelicans this season, they're still just 8-11 overall.
New Orleans, meanwhile, dropped to 6-14 and has now lost five consecutive contests.
OKC F Danilo Gallinari: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists
OKC C Steven Adams: 17 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks
OKC G Chris Paul: 16 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists
OKC G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
OKC G Dennis Schroder: 17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
NO G Jrue Holiday: 26 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
NO F Brandon Ingram: 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks
NO G Lonzo Ball: 14 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 block
NO G JJ Redick: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Lonzo Ball Solid Down the Stretch in Return to Pelicans' Starting Lineup
This game marked Ball's return to the floor after sitting out the Pelicans' last two games with an illness. More significantly, it was the 2017 second overall pick's first start since Nov. 8, as New Orleans had been using Ball from the bench prior to his getting sick.
Ball has now started nine of the Pelicans' 20 games.
The 22-year-old point guard looked a bit rusty through the first three quarters against the Thunder, while Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans' backcourt efforts.
However, Ball did show flashes of his playmaking ability:
Once the fourth quarter arrived, Ball had found his groove. With 7:47 left in regulation, Ball's third three of the evening gave the Pelicans an 89-86 lead:
Ball then grabbed a defensive rebound and assisted a Josh Hart layup before draining another three to keep New Orleans ahead 94-89.
Brandon Ingram assisted both of Ball's fourth-quarter threes, giving a glimpse into what the Pelicans imagined when landing both players in exchange for sending Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers over the summer.
Andrew Lopez @_Andrew_Lopez
That being said, Zo needed to take that corner 3 the second time he got it. Ingram was posting up and was looking for Zo after he made the first one. Zo waved him off because CP3 was too close. Once CP committed to the double, BI fired it to Zo who passed it on to Hart. https://t.co/6cCwij86FO
Andrew Lopez @_Andrew_Lopez
Brandon Ingram has played 504 mins in 15 games. Here's a list of things he's averaging a career high in: 25.9 ppg 7.4 rpg 4.0 apg 1.0 bpg 40.9 3P% 80.9 FT% 2.4 3p per game 55.4 eFG% 22.6 PER 59.8 TS% 21.2 DRB% 11.7 TRB% 20.1 AST% 2.6 BLK% 29.8 Usage% 12.2 TOV% (career low)
Unfortunately, as has been the case for the Pelicans more often than not in 2019, the game slipped away from them in the final minutes. New Orleans has lost its last three games by a combined 12 points, per ESPN's Andrew Lopez.
The Pelicans have been inhibited, too, by rookie top overall pick Zion Williamson yet to debut while he recovers from knee surgery on a torn right lateral meniscus. Despite yet another loss, getting Ball back into the starting lineup with Holiday and Ingram is a positive step toward flooring a cohesive group once Williamson is ready to play.
The Pelicans will host the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.
The Thunder will travel back home to Oklahoma City and host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.