Brandon Ingram's Big Night Leads Pelicans to Upset Win vs. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2019

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 25: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball during the game against the Denver Nuggets on December 25, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans snapped the Denver Nuggets' seven-game winning streak, walking away with a 112-100 victory on Christmas Day at Pepsi Center.

New Orleans has won three of its last four games as well following a 13-game losing streak from the end of November through the middle of December.

The Pelicans were initially hopeful No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson would be available to suit up against the Nuggets when he underwent knee surgery in October. However, president of basketball operations David Griffin said last week that Williamson is still "a ways away" from getting on the court.

New Orleans didn't need the former Duke star to enjoy a Merry Christmas.


Notable Performers

  • Brandon Ingram, SF, Pelicans: 31 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals
  • JJ Redick, SG, Pelicans: 15 points, three rebounds
  • Jrue Holiday, PG, Pelicans: 20 points, eight assists, six steals, four rebounds
  • Nikola Jokic, C, Nuggets: 23 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals
  • Gary Harris, SG, Nuggets: 15 points, three rebounds, four steals, one assist
  • Jerami Grant, PF, Nuggets: 17 points, two rebounds, one assist


Ingram Leads the Way to Close Out NBA's Christmas Slate

Crediting only Brandon Ingram for the result would be unfair because six Pelicans players scored in double figures and New Orleans owned a 52-40 edge on the boards. The visiting team was 18-of-43 from beyond the arc as well.

But whether he was creating offense for himself, hitting spot-up jumpers, or occupying the defense's attention to free up a teammate, Ingram was the Pelicans' best player.


Ingram (11 PTS) was a perfect 4-4 from the field in the 1st QTR! #WontBowDown https://t.co/5W93824Dfd

C.J. Watson @Quietstorm_32

Ingram deserves the max in my opinion 🤷🏽‍♂️

Ingram enjoyed a career-best night from the perimeter, hitting seven of his nine three-point attempts. His ability to stretch the floor is the biggest reason for his massive jump in 2019-20.

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

.@B_Ingram13 making the corner 👌 look easy https://t.co/IbLbJ0rMZp

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

B.I. 👌🤫 https://t.co/93gz3n469G

Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA

If Brandon Ingram is hitting 3s off screens from 4 feet behind the line, he's going to be a problem

JJ Redick almost single-handedly gave the Pelicans a 58-55 halftime lead. He scored 13 of New Orleans' final 15 points of the half, capping off his offensive outburst with a heave at the buzzer.


JJ Redick from the LOGO! 🚨 He's up to 15 PTS at the half on ESPN. #NBAXmas https://t.co/gThD1k3eV0

Jim Eichenhofer @Jim_Eichenhofer

JJ Redick has made countless tough shots already this season, but he also banked in a three from near halfcourt to give #Pelicans 58-55 halftime lead. #AlwaysHeave Redick (15 pts) was huge in NOLA regaining the momentum after Denver run in 2Q

The Pelicans' momentum didn't fade as they headed to the locker room, either. They maintained their lead over the Nuggets heading into the final frame.

Redick's one-man show toward the end of the second quarter helped turn the tide in favor of New Orleans.


Jokic Continues Hot Run in Losing Effort

Nikola Jokic's weight will probably always be a point of discussion, the significance of which depends on how he's playing in that moment.

When he combined to shoot 7-of-23 for 20 points in back-to-back losses to the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, the 24-year-old opened himself up to some extra criticism. That Lakers game was largely an anomaly in the month of December, however. He was averaging 21.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.1 assists entering the night.

Playing against the inexperienced Jaxson Hayes and defensively unreliable Jahlil Okafor helped Jokic on Wednesday.

Mason Ginsberg @MasonGinsberg

(I say this not to disrespect Jax, but just because asking him to body up Jokic is tough given his frame)

#RingerNBA @ringernba

whenever Jokic has the ball https://t.co/eNkt9iaqZf

Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA

How is there no help for Holiday 1 on 1 vs Jokic in the post?

In general, though, Denver simply couldn't string enough quality possessions together to overtake the Pelicans in the second half. The Nuggets continued knocking on the door but would either have a lapse on defense or a poor shot attempt on the other end.

Mike Singer @msinger

Pepsi Center is begging for a big 3-pointer from the Nuggets, who are down four with 6 minutes left. Every time it feels like they're on the brink, there's an airball, and a quick response from the Pels.

Nick Kosmider @NickKosmider

Nuggets have simply been awful defensively tonight. Multiple instances in this quarter where they aren't locating the New Orleans shooters, mixing up assignments. They've also given up 12 offensive rebounds.

Kendra Andrews @kendra__andrews

Denver has been making a lot of little mistakes — like just now when there were no Pelicans around and the Nuggets accidentally knocked the ball out of bounds — that are allowing the Pelicans to keep their lead. Pels lead 94-90 with 7:43 left in the game.

Mason Ginsberg @MasonGinsberg

Malone is going to be FURIOUS about that Jrue board over Jokic

This is undoubtedly a game head coach Mike Malone will wish he could have back.


What's Next?

The Pelicans host the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. The Nuggets remain at home Saturday for a matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies.