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.
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
This is undoubtedly a game head coach Mike Malone will wish he could have back.
The Pelicans host the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. The Nuggets remain at home Saturday for a matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies.