Brandon Ingram had his first career triple-double, Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double and the host New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Charlotte Hornets 115-96 on Thursday night.
Ingram finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists and Valanciunas had 20 points and 19 rebounds as the Pelicans (36-37) won their third straight game to strengthen their standing in the tightly bunched battle to reach the Western Conference play-in tournament.
New Orleans’ CJ McCollum scored 20, Trey Murphy III had 19 and Naji Marshall added 16.
P.J. Washington scored 18, Svi Mykhailiuk had 15 and Gordon Hayward added 12 to lead the Hornets (23-51), who lost their starting backcourt in the first half.
Terry Rozier scored five points in 10 minutes before leaving the game for good in the first quarter because of right foot discomfort. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored eight points in 12 minutes exiting for good in the second quarter because of a right shoulder strain.
Backup Dennis Smith Jr. had eight points in 22 minutes before leaving for good in the third quarter because he wasn’t feeling well.
The Pelicans scored the first six points of the third quarter to extend their lead to 68-57.
The Hornets closed within 81-78 on a 3-pointer by Mykhailiuk before Ingram scored five points and grabbed the 10th rebound he needed for the triple-double to help New Orleans take an 88-81 lead into the fourth quarter.
Marshall scored the Pelicans’ first six points of the fourth quarter and added two more during a 20-4 run that put New Orleans in command with a 108-85 lead.
Valanciunas made his first three shots as the Pelicans opened a 9-1 lead and Ingram added 17 points as they increased the advantage to 37-24 at the end of the first quarter.
Washington scored eight points as the Hornets pulled within 41-36.
New Orleans rebuilt the lead to 10 points when Marshall made two free throws, but Hayward scored five points to help Charlotte close within 62-57 at halftime.