NEW ORLEANS — Trey Murphy III hadn’t heard a certain song in quite some time.
After every home victory, the New Orleans Pelicans play “Wipe Me Down” by Boosie as players and fans exit the building. With the team on a 10-game losing streak however, things had been quiet for some time in the Smoothie King Center.
“I told a few people I probably hadn’t heard Wipe Me Down in like a month,” Murphy joked on Saturday. “It’s been a minute since I heard that. It was really good to hear that song again.”
Murphy and his teammates danced away postgame on Saturday after the team heard the song once more after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers, 131-126. It had been exactly a month since their last home victory — Jan. 4 against the Houston Rockets.
The Pelicans were able to snap the streak thanks to a big performance from Brandon Ingram, who poured in 35 points and looked the most like himself since returning from a two-month absence.
Ingram returned on Jan. 25 but took time rounding back into form, which he did against the Lakers with a season high in points.
“He looked like the Brandon we’re all accustomed to seeing,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “He was calling certain plays that he wanted for himself, finding his teammates, attacking the basket. It’s good to have Brandon back and playing at a high level.”
Ingram played just one minute, 58 seconds in the first quarter because of foul trouble. He also missed his only two attempts in that stretch. When he returned in the second quarter, he played 12 minutes and scored 16 points, tying the most he’s had in any quarter this season.
The Lakers held a 32-30 lead after the first quarter. Ingram said missing the time was what helped him get going.
“I had a chance to think about all the ways I could be effective when I get back in the game,” Ingram said. “I just tried to do that. I tried to have no conscious tonight. I was making sure my spirit wasn’t disturbed tonight after being out the first quarter. I just came back and tried to help my teammates the best I could.”
New Orleans held the lead for just 13 seconds in the first three quarters as the Lakers countered every time the team was able to get close. But things started to go the Pelicans’ way late in the third quarter.
After the Lakers took a 106-98 lead, CJ McCollum hit a floater in the lane with 5.2 left in the quarter. On the ensuing inbounds play, McCollum got a hand on the ball and was able to deflect it in the direction of Jose Alvarado who drained a 3-pointer. The Pelicans rode that wave of momentum into a 11-2 stretch to start the fourth quarter capped off by a pair of deep 3-pointers by Murphy.
New Orleans scored 42 points in the third quarter and Ingram gave credit to Murphy’s shooting for helping get the Pelicans offense flowing.
“We noticed in games that we’re usually trading twos for threes,” Ingram said. “And teams in this stretch had been usually beating us by that margin. So Trey was a big part of that. Larry (Nance) hit a three. CJ was a big part and guys made shots. Guys finally seen the ball go in so hopefully we can get some confidence.”
The Lakers tied the game at 120 with 4:20 but never got that close again as the Pelicans closed it out for the victory.
“It was a gutsy win,” Nance said. “Obviously, that team’s been playing really, really well. The talent is top end and they came ready to play. But it’s been a long time since we’ve seen 48 minutes of Pelicans’ basketball. I don’t know if we saw 48 minutes tonight, but it was pretty damn close.”
After the loss, Green talked about how it was a combination of relief and elation in the locker room for the team to snap the streak and get back to .500.
“It’s tough for a young team to continue to believe when the results aren’t there,” Green said. “The good thing about this group is we all did it last year, the same exact group pretty much. So they understand that we’ll go through moments like this, hopefully not as many games. We gotta stick with it. Continue to maintain a high character, which our guys do. Get after it in practice.
“In the locker room, guys were excited and happy. You can take a deep breath for a day then we gotta turn around tomorrow and do it again.”
The Pelicans are back in action on Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings. De’Aaron Fox won’t be available for Sacramento as he’s listed as out (personal reasons). Fox also missed the Kings’ game on Friday night against the Indiana Pacers.