The New Orleans Pelicans used a 22-5 first half run to break free of the Minnesota Timberwolves and collect a 107-98 win on Monday night.
Brandon Ingram scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Pels to their first victory of the season after an 0-3 start.
B.I. was 4-for-6 in the fourth quarter, repeatedly knocking down mid-range jump shots to keep the Wolves at bay.
Jonas Valanciunas added 22 points and 23 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass as the Pelicans led by as many as 21 points before Minnesota was able to claw back into the game late in the third and into the start of the fourth quarter.
New Orleans ended its three-game losing streak to start the season by beating the Wolves two nights after literally giving away the first meeting between these teams.
Devonte’ Graham continued his steady play to start the season, scoring 21 points, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 17.
Head coach Willie Green got his first career victory because his team played lights-out defense over the first 24 minutes as the Pelicans built a 54-43 halftime advantage.
New Orleans held the Timberwolves to 11-of-44 shooting in the half, as Minnesota relied on 15 free throws to keep the game from turning into an early rout.
Guards Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell combined to go 1 for 14 as Minnesota showed very little patience against the New Orleans defense; as they settled for bad shots, and took them early in the shot clock.
The Pelicans won the rebounding battle 60-41, and outscored Minny 40-30 in the paint, playing with a level of physicality that was rarely seen in the first three games of the season.
It took an incredible effort from Edwards to cut the Pelicans lead to single digits.
Edwards scored 21 of his 28 points in the third quarter, showing off his full complement of skills in his bag and bringing Minnesota within four points of the Pelicans. This after being held to just a pair of free throws in the first half.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 32 points and 14 boards in the losing effort.
The Pelicans still managed to turn the ball over 20 times, though it was a marked improvement from the franchise record-tying 30 giveaways on Saturday night.
But, a win is a win, and the Pelicans have just that. A win.
It gets no easier for New Orleans, as the Pelicans return home to face the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night before visits from the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks.