New Orleans entered Thursday’s nationally-televised matchup in Denver facing the NBA’s toughest remaining schedule, but that statistic becomes a bit less daunting after you beat the Western Conference’s top team. With its postseason fortunes hanging in the balance, New Orleans knocked off Denver, wrapping up a challenging road trip with a 3-1 record and moving into seventh place in the West. The Pelicans now head home for four consecutive games in the Smoothie King Center, where they’ve gone 24-13. New Orleans not only increased the gap between it and outside-the-top-10 teams Dallas (37-40) and Utah (36-40), but it also inched back within a game of sixth-place Golden State (40-37).
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Brandon Ingram rose for a mid-range jumper from the left wing and drained it, giving New Orleans a 14-point lead with 3:35 remaining. Denver had made a few mini-runs early in the fourth quarter to make things a little tense for the visitors, but Ingram came up with a clean-up extended layup, then that bucket, to give the Pelicans some breathing room.
Brandon Ingram (31 points) vs. Denver Nuggets Highlights 3/30/23
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ingram earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors last week, highlighted by his first career triple-double in a home win vs. Charlotte. He seems intent on being in contention for the award again this week, highlighted by a second career triple-double in a road win at Denver. He shot an efficient 13/22 from the field, rolling up 31 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the Nuggets.
BY THE NUMBERS
0/10: Combined three-point shooting in the first quarter for the two teams. On TNT, former New Orleans head coach Stan Van Gundy remarked that he couldn’t remember the last no-treys NBA quarter he’s witnessed. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was only the second time all season (in over 1,100 contests) that a game began with zero made threes in the first quarter.
40, 88: Denver first-half and total points, the Nuggets’ lowest outputs of the season in both departments. “(The Nuggets) missed some open looks, but our defense was really solid," Pelicans head coach Willie Green said. “Getting out and contesting their shooters.”
60: Trey Murphy three-pointers made in March, a franchise record for any month. “Trey is in a great rhythm now,” Green said.
Willie Green recaps win in Denver | Pelicans at Nuggets 3/30/23
REVISITING FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME
Removing Nikola Jokic (calf injury) from the NBA’s fourth-best rebounding team gave New Orleans (the league's fifth-best) an edge in this category on paper. On the court, the Pelicans capitalized, winning the board battle by a 46-40 margin.
MATCHUP TO WATCH, PART I
At forward, it was a one-sided affair, with Ingram dominating, but Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. struggling to hit shots, normally his forte. Ingram was the best player on the Ball Arena hardwood; Porter went 5/15 after starting 1/9 from the field, netting 10 points on a night when Denver needed a big offensive performance from him.
MATCHUP TO WATCH, PART II
Single-game plus-minus can be an overstated stat, but in a matchup of quality perimeter defenders, Herb Jones was a plus-19, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope joined Denver starters as a negative in that category, at minus-17. KCP did come up with three steals.