MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Brandon Ingram scored 27 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 22 points and a career-high 23 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans snapped a season-opening three-game losing streak with a 107-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
Devonte’ Graham added 21 points for New Orleans, which was again without injured star Zion Williamson. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 17 points for the Pelicans, who had a 21-point lead trimmed to four points late in the third quarter.
“To finally get one win, it’s refreshing,” said New Orleans coach Willie Green, who earned his first win as an NBA head coach. “You understand really quick how hard it is to win in this league.”
Minnesota had its two-game win streak halted as its offense failed to find a rhythm until Anthony Edwards got the offense and the crowd going by scoring 21 of his 28 points in the third.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 32 points and 14 rebounds, and Patrick Beverly added 13 points off the bench.
“I felt like, for the most part, that our preparation, we kind of disrespected the game,” Beverly said. “That comes with time. You disrespect the game and the game will come back and get you, and it did tonight.”
A game after tying a franchise record with 30 turnovers, New Orleans was in sync early, using the extra pass to get its offense going. The Pelicans had eight assists as a team on their first nine baskets.
The Pelicans ended the first quarter on a 10-2 run to take control, and extended the run to 22-5 early in the second. The lead ballooned to 21 points before Edwards got involved.
“When you have 30 turnovers in a game, it’s going to be hard to beat anybody,” Graham said. “Take care of the ball. Seventeen (turnovers) is still a lot, but that’s a good defensive team. We just stuck with it.”
Much of New Orleans’ lead was built with Towns on the bench.
After fouling out in the first game between the teams on Saturday, Towns was called for an early technical foul. Shortly after, he was called for an illegal screen that sent him to the bench with two fouls. Coach Chris Finch picked up a technical foul in support of his center.
Even with Towns on the court, Minnesota’s offense was largely reduced to quick 3-pointers and one-and-done possessions with the Pelicans controlling the boards.
New Orleans outrebounded the Wolves 60-41.
Edwards, the electrifying second-year guard, was held to two points in the first half on two free throws. Edwards and D’Angelo Russell were a combined 1 for 14 in the half, while Minnesota shot 6 of 24 (25%) from long distance.
“I think we take a lot of possessions that didn’t need a shot, including myself,” Towns said. “Forced. It’s disappointing. We understand the magnitude of this game. We understood what the opponent was going to bring. But we just didn’t bring it.”
Ingram closed out the game with 18 points in the second half, including a big dunk in transition that helped halt Minnesota’s momentum.
TAKING SOME TIME
Part of his career-best rebounding performance, Valanciunas also had nine offensive rebounds. He played 39:19 and ended up taking a timeout in the fourth to get a rest.
“I’ve had several talks with him and I told him, ‘We just going to ride you, big fella.’,” Green said. “He actually called a timeout on his own because he was so tired. I just looked at him, I said, ‘Just sit down the whole three minutes and get back on the floor, we got to finish the game.’ But he’s a warrior.”
DUG TOO DEEP
Edwards’ run helped Minnesota get back in the game, but the early deficit was too large.
Edwards hit a 3 with 8:33 left in the third for his first field goal and quickly added a layup in transition to provide a much-needed jolt for the Wolves. His thunderous dunk over New Orleans forward Trey Murphy III brought the crowd to its feet.
Pelicans: Josh Hart missed his second straight game with right quadriceps tendinosis. Second-round rookie Herbert Jones made his second straight start and was scoreless. … Williamson remains out with a right foot fracture, and Daulton Hommes was inactive with right peroneal soreness. … New Orleans finished with 20 turnovers, leading to 23 points for Minnesota.
Timberwolves: With Russell going 1 of 8 from 3-point range, Minnesota finished 15 of 50 (30%) from beyond the arc. Russell finished with nine points on 3-of-14 shooting. … The Wolves shot 34.4% (31 for 90) from the field.
Pelicans: Return home following a three-game road trip to face Atlanta on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Travel to Milwaukee for their first road game of the season on Wednesday.