All eyes on Leonard, Ingram as Clippers visit Pelicans
Kawhi Leonard is on a roll offensively.
So is Brandon Ingram.
The two will be center stage when Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers visit Ingram and the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday afternoon.
Leonard has scored more than 30 points in four consecutive games. He had 22 in the first half on his way to 32 as the Clippers coasted to a 122-95 victory over visiting Orlando on Thursday night.
"My teammates are being aggressive, getting me open looks as well, just creating a chain reaction," Leonard said.
Two nights earlier, Leonard had a season-high 43 points in 29 minutes in a 128-103 home victory against Cleveland.
"He's getting more used to playing with new guys on the floor and where they're at, and they're starting to get used to him," Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. "And you can just see it growing."
Leonard didn't play while he rested his surgically repaired knee in the Pelicans' 132-127 victory in New Orleans on Nov. 14. That was Paul George's first game with the Clippers.
Ten days after the first meeting, the teams met again in Los Angeles and Leonard and George both played, but it was Montrezl Harrell, who made the biggest difference, tying a career high with 34 points in the Clippers' 134-109 win.
On Saturday, the Clippers likely will be without George, who has missed the last four games due to a strained left hamstring.
"They're a very good basketball team, obviously," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "With Kawhi you're talking about a guy who has been an MVP in two Finals. He makes a huge difference when he's out on the floor -- offensively and defensively.
Ingram returned from a one game-absence due to right knee soreness to score a career-high 49 points as host New Orleans ended Utah's 10-game winning streak with a 138-132 overtime victory Thursday.
"To be honest with you, it doesn't surprise me that much," Gentry said of Ingram's performance. "I just think that the way he works and the way he's gotten better and worked on his craft -- sooner or later he was going to have a game like this. I thought he did everything we asked him to do. He just played a terrific game. I think you're going to see more of those games like that."
Center Derrick Favors returned from a two-game absence due to a hamstring strain and contributed 21 points and 11 rebounds against his former team. The Pelicans prevailed even though guards Jrue Holiday (elbow) and JJ Redick (hamstring) remained sidelined.
Ingram's jumper gave New Orleans a one-point lead with 0.2 seconds in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz lobbed the ball toward Rudy Gobert and Jaxson Hayes was called for a foul. Gobert missed the first free throw but made the second to send the game into overtime.
The Pelicans remained confident entering the overtime and after falling behind by five points, they finished the game on an 11-0 run.
"It was great," Gentry said. "They said, 'Don't worry about it, we'll win the game in overtime.' They said, 'Don't worry about it -- we'll dig in, we'll find a way to win.'"
The Pelicans, who have won nine of their last 12, are awaiting No. 1 overall draft choice Zion Williamson's NBA debut next Wednesday against San Antonio.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 17, 2020