It was a high-scoring affair at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Nets have struggled to turn Kyrie Irving's early success with his new team into wins but were able to hold off a career-performance from New Orleans Pelicans' forward Brandon Ingram to come away with a 135-125 victory.
The Nets were looking like they were going to run away with this one leading by 17 points at the half but a 48-point third quarter from the Pelicans surged them back into the game.
Irving had 15 points at the half and exploded for 18 points in the third quarter alone, but New Orleans wouldn't go down easy as Brandon Ingram scored 10 points in the quarter and Josh Hart added 12 points in the third as the Pelicans posted their highest-scoring quarter of the season.
Ingram carried his hot hand into the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points to try and carry the Pelicans to a much-needed win but he ultimately came up short as the Nets closed things out on their home floor.
Irving finished with an impressive stat line of 39 points shooting an efficient 13-for-21 (61.9%) from the field and a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line. He added nine assists, four rebounds and three steals to help his team inch closer to .500 with a 3-4 record.
Kyrie (39 PTS & 9 AST) continues his hot start as he helps power the Nets to the W! #WeGoHard pic.twitter.com/aXGKHQryF5- NBA TV (@NBATV) November 5, 2019
Ingram scored a career-high 40 points on 17-for-24 (70.8%) shooting from the field to go with five rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Brandon Ingram (40 PTS, 17-24 FG) was on fire tonight, netting a new career-high! 👀#WontBowDown pic.twitter.com/eahVsaQP0J- NBA TV (@NBATV) November 5, 2019
But what can be made out of this high-scoring duel?
What it means for Kyrie Irving:
Irving has been performing at the highest level through the first seven games of his Brooklyn Nets career.
He's averaging 31.7 points per game, the second-most in the league behind James Harden. He posted a triple-double of 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in their last game in a loss to the Detroit Pistons and had a double-double of 22 points and 10 assists in a win over the Houston Rockets prior to that.
He's yet to dish out less than five assists in a game, proving his playmaking continues to improve at an average of 7.7 assists per game. He's getting his teammates involved and scoring fairly efficiently with splits of 47.2/38.3/92.5, yet it hasn't translated to consistent success for Brooklyn.
The Nets came away with a win in this one, but Irving is going to need more help from players like Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan if Brooklyn is going to be any sort of a threat.
Dinwiddie's scoring average is down to just 14.0 points per game shooting 38.8% from the field and 24.2% from 3-point land compared to his 16.8 points per game on 44.2% and 33.5% shooting, respectively, last season. Jordan is averaging just 6.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, well short of the 11.0 points and 13.1 rebounds he averaged last season.
For the Nets to make the most out of Irving's stellar start to the season, they'll need these two players to return to their form of last season. Until then - can Kyrie challenge Harden as the league's leading scorer?
What it means for Brandon Ingram:
Once it was announced that the Pelicans would be without Zion Williamson to start the season, it became gut-check time for Ingram.
New Orleans' 1-6 record might not show it, but the 22-year-old forward has been doing everything he can to try and keep this team afloat until their phenom rookie returns.
Ingram is averaging 25.9 points shooting efficiently with splits of 55.2/48.6/74.3 to go with 7.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He's acting as a point forward, handling the ball a lot with a team-high usage rate of 27.9%.
If you exclude the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder where he left the game in the second quarter with a head injury, Ingram has scored 22 points or more in every game. He's reached double-digit rebounds (recording double-doubles) two times and has dished out five or more assists in five of his seven games.
We may be realizing that Ingram is better-suited as a No. 2 guy since the Pelicans have struggled to win games, but if he can continue this type of play once Williamson returns, we'll be getting a preview of a two-headed monster that could shake things up in the West sooner rather than later.
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