NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brandon Ingram scored 29 points, Zion Williamson added 24, and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-104 on Friday night.
Jrue Holiday scored 22 points and Derrick Favors grabbed 15 rebounds for the Pelicans, who held a double-digit lead for most of the game en route to their third victory in four games as they pursue the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
With 23 games left, New Orleans stood two games behind eighth-place Memphis, which lost 104-101 to Sacramento on Friday.
Collin Sexton tied a career high with 31 points for Cleveland, which came in having won three of four, and two straight, under newly promoted head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Kevin Porter Jr. scored 16 and Darrius Garland 15 for the Cavs, who led just twice by two or fewer points in the first two minutes before falling behind for good.
The Pelicans were up 93-70 after Ingram’s 3 with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter, but Sexton made three 3s during a 13-2 run that cut New Orleans’ lead to 12 by the end of the period.
Williamson, Ingram and Holiday checked back in to start the fourth, and New Orleans promptly went on a 10-2 run — ignited by 3s by E’Twaun Moore and Holiday — to push its lead back to 20.
The Pelicans raced to a 21-point, first-quarter lead when Josh Hart’s transition 3 made it 43-22.
The lead reached 22 in the second quarter when Ingram’s finger roll made it 64-42. Cleveland could have fallen farther behind if not for Sexton, whose 19 first-half points on an array of driving layups and jumpers helped trim the Cavaliers’ deficit to 13 before Ingram’s dunk gave New Orleans a 70-55 lead going into halftime.
Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson scored 13 points and Kevin Love scored 10. ... Attempted 31 3-pointers, missing 20. ... Shot 45.3% (43 of 95). ... Scored 56 points in the paint.
Pelicans: Lonzo Ball had 12 assists. ... Moore and Nicolo Melli each scored 10 points. ... Williamson eclipsed 20 points for the 12th time in just 15 career NBA games. ... New Orleans outrebounded Cleveland 49-34. ... Shot 54.5% (48 of 88), including 9 of 23 from 3-point range. ... Jaxson Hayes revved up the crowd with a pair of thunderous dunks, one on an alley-oop and the other a reverse on a fast-break feed from Ingram.
Cavaliers: Host Indiana on Saturday night, hoping to avoid their first two-game skid since coach J.B. Bickerstaff took over following John Beilein’s resignation on Feb. 19.
Pelicans: Host the Lakers on Sunday night, just six days after LeBron James scored 40 in a 118-109 victory over New Orleans in Los Angeles.