Pelicans Kings Basketball

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) shoots over Sacramento Kings guards De'Aaron Fox (5) and Chris Duarte (3) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas) 

Malik Monk withered to the ground after meeting Larry Nance Jr. in the middle of the lane in the second quarter of Sunday’s game between the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans.

Monk’s turnover freed the Pelicans to get out in transition. CJ McCollum served up a lob pass to Brandon Ingram, whose dunk increased his team’s lead to 24.

Those were two of the 72 first-half points the Pelicans scored against the Kings. Even without injured star Zion Williamson, New Orleans (22-15) romped to a 133-100 win against Sacramento.

McCollum buried a season-high seven 3-pointers, and Ingram notched 15 points, five rebounds and eight assists in another strong all-around outing as the Pelicans kicked off a five-game road trip with a blowout win.

On Friday, the Pelicans offense was stymied when the Los Angeles Clippers double-teamed Ingram. The Kings tried a similar strategy, but it didn’t work. Ingram picked them apart with his passing.

“We watched the film of the Clippers game," Pelicans coach Willie Green said. "We knew we could be better. Our spacing could be better. More force. Our guys came out tonight. We executed.”

In the second quarter, Ingram threw a looping cross-court pass to Dyson Daniels for a corner 3. In the third quarter, Ingram found Naji Marshall for another corner 3. Marshall knocked the shot down to give the Pelicans a 40-point lead.

The Pelicans led by as many as 50 points in the second half. Several of their starters only needed to play three quarters to get the win. McCollum scored 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Jonas Valanciunas tallied 15 points and 12 rebounds — his 20th double-double of the season. Trey Murphy, who started in Williamson’s place, scored 11 points.

McCollum converted five 3-pointers in the first half. He added two more makes from behind the arc in the third quarter. 

“CJ did a great job of taking quality shots," Green said. "Then once he got it going, his teammates did a great job of finding him.”

For Sacramento, star guard De'Aaron Fox scored just three points on 1-of-10 shooting. Fox, who came into the game averaging 29.2 points, had not scored fewer than 14 points in a game this season until Sunday.

The Pelicans have a 4-0 record against the Kings this season. The teams will play for a fifth time in April.

“It’s hard to beat a team four times," Green said. "We understand that. There are certain matchups in the NBA that are suited for certain teams. We seem to match up well against Sacramento. We have to play them again. I’m sure when that time comes, they will be ready.”

New Orleans recorded 35 assists, three away from its season-high. The Pelicans offense hummed on a night when their second-leading scorer, Williamson, sat out because of a right quadriceps contusion.

Green said Williamson is “day to day.” The Pelicans next play Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors.

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