NBA

It is Brandon Ingram time now - Ball hails Pels forward ahead of Zion return

By Sports Desk January 17, 2020

Brandon Ingram served a timely reminder of his quality ahead of Zion Williamson's impending return by scoring a career-high 49 points against the Utah Jazz, and Lonzo Ball called him the New Orleans Pelicans' "go-to guy".

It was confirmed on Monday that Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and one of the most hyped prospects to ever enter the NBA, is expected to make his regular-season debut next week against the San Antonio Spurs.

A knee injury has kept the teenager sidelined since preseason and Ingram, traded to the Pelicans in the offseason as part of the deal which sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, has thrived in his absence.

The forward led the Pelicans to a 138-132 overtime victory over the Jazz, who had their 10-game winning streak snapped as a result on Thursday.

Ingram is averaging 25.8 points per game this season - the 10th best return in the NBA - and Ball said that he has to be considered the main man on the team that landed Williamson.

"He has come into his own. It is Brandon Ingram time now," Ball, who also came across to New Orleans from the Lakers in the Davis trade, told reporters.

"Since I have known him, he has been a confident person but this whole year, he has been on a whole other level.

"Obviously, he is our go-to guy on this team and we trust him."

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    2007: Things got off to a shaky start for James, who had 5.8 turnovers per game as the Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. That is the most by any player in a Finals in the past 30 years.

    2011: As the Heat's dream team were defeated 4-2 by the Dallas Mavericks, James averaged 17.8 points per game. It is the only time he has been held to under 20 in a playoff series.

    2012: LeBron's wait for a first ring finally ended and he was pivotal to the Heat's 4-1 success against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He finished Game 5 with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, making him the first player since James Worthy in 1988 to have a 25-point triple-double in a title-clinching win.

    2013: The Heat went back-to-back by defeating the Spurs 4-3 and in the process James became the first player to have two triple-doubles in a single Finals since Magic Johnson in 1991 – the second of those came in Miami's incredible Game 6 overtime win, having been five points down with 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

    2014: LeBron became the first player to average at least 25 points per game on a minimum of 50 per cent three-point shooting in a Finals since Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in 2002. However, it was not enough to stop the Heat slumping to a 4-1 defeat against the Spurs.

    2015: Although the Cavs lost 4-2, James produced a string of stellar displays against the Golden State Warriors to become the first player to average at least 35 points per game in a Finals since Shaquille O'Neal in 2002.

    2016: In a rematch against the Warriors a year later, LeBron spearheaded a Cavs side that became the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals and win the NBA championship. His phenomenal block on Andre Iguolada with less than two minutes remaining laid the foundation for Kyrie Irving to seal the win.

    2017: The Warriors gained vengeance with a 4-1 success the following season, despite James averaging a 30-point triple-double in the Finals – a feat no other player has achieved since the NBA-ABA merger.

    2018: Things could have been very different had it not been for J.R. Smith's brain fade at the end of the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the third straight matchup with the Warriors. James became the first player with a 50-point game in the Finals since Michael Jordan in 1993, but Golden State won in overtime and went on to sweep the Cavs for the championship.

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