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Graham, Valanciunas push Pelicans past Pacers, 117-113

Devonte' Graham scored 25 points, Josh Hart had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Indiana Pacers 117-113 on Monday night.

Graham, who was questionable before the game because of a sore left ankle, started and went 5 of 9 from 3-point range on a night when the rest of his team missed 20 of 21 from deep. Two of his 3s and eight of his points came in the final six minutes of a game that was tight until the end.

“I just want the ball in those moments,” Graham said. "I just let it fly with confidence. My coaching staff and everybody's got confidence in me and I just take those shots — and thank God, they go in.”

New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) shoots over Indiana Pacers forward Torrey Craig (13) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

Hart, who briefly left the game in the third quarter after turning his left ankle, returned in the fourth quarter and immediately hit the Pelicans' only other made 3 of the game. He grabbed his ninth rebound with 28 seconds left to help stave off the Pacers' comeback bid.

“I twisted it, but in the moment there's always adrenaline running,” Hart said of his ankle injury. "I'm sure it will be sore tomorrow, but it was just about competing and winning.”

The short-handed Pacers stayed in the game — and led for a good portion of it — because of their 3-point shooting. They made 19 of 46 (41.3%) for the game.

New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas, second from right, shoots over Indiana Pacers forwards Oshae Brissett (12) and Torrey Craig (13) in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

Duane Washington Jr., an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State who'd made 17 3s for the season coming in, hit a career-best seven shots (on 12 attempts) from deep for a career-high 21 points.

“I just had a good rhythm coming into the game,” Washington said. “My guys believe in me to make shots, and they put me in some great positions tonight to make a lot."

The game was a highly competitive contest between teams missing their top scorers.

New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) shoots over Indiana Pacers forward Oshae Brissett (12) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

Pelicans leading scorer Brandon Ingram was sidelined by a right ankle sprain, while Pacers top scorer and interior defender Domantas Sabonis was out with a left ankle sprain.

The absence of Sabonis inside benefitted Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas, who had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

“He was good and just being patient," Pelicans coach Willie Green said of Valanciunas. "He took advantage of their lack of size.”

New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) reacts after scoring against the Indiana Pacers in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

Indiana was missing other prominent contributors, including Malcolm Brogdon (sore right Achilles) and Myles Turner (left foot).

Caris LeVert scored 19 and Chris Duarte 14 for the Pacers.

“We did a lot of very good things,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “I love the spirit we’ve played with.”

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green reacts after a score in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

Neither team led by more than eight points in a game that had 12 lead changes and 10 ties.

LeVert's 3 with 2 seconds left pulled the Pacers to 115-113 before New Orleans successfully inbounded the ball and Nickeil Alexander-Walker iced the game with two free throws to cap off his 14-point, six-assist performance.

TIP-INS

Indiana Pacers forward Justin Holiday (8) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

Pacers: Torrey Craig score 13 points and Goga Bitadze had 12 points. ... Closed out their five game road trip at 2-3. ... The game marked the beginning of guard Lance Stephenson's second 10-day contract with the Pacers. “He's done some very good things,” Carlisle said. Stephenson played 17 minutes and had seven points, five assists and four rebounds.

Pelicans: Outscored Indiana 64-32 in the paint. ... Garrett Temple and Jaxson Hayes each scored 14 points and Hayes had seven rebounds. ... Hit 29 of 31 free throws and outrebounded Indiana 45-42.

SILVER LININGS

Indiana Pacers forward Torrey Craig (13) passes the ball past New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) to teammate forward Isaiah Jackson (23) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

Green didn't belabor New Orleans' off night shooting from 3-point range, instead emphasizing his team's ability to overcome it — and Ingram's absence — with effort and teamwork around the basket.

In addition to outscoring Indiana by double inside and hitting 93.5% of its free throws, New Orleans had 23 assists on 41 made baskets while committed just 11 turnovers.

“We did a lot of good on the offensive end," Green said. "I know we look at the 3s and we want to pinpoint an area that we didn’t necessarily be efficient in. But other than that, I thought we did a great job.”

Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carllisle reacts to a play in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

UP NEXT

Pacers: Host Charlotte on Wednesday.

Pelicans: Visit Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Indiana Pacers guard Caris LeVert (22) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

Indiana Pacers forward Torrey Craig (13) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes, top, dunks over Indiana Pacers forward Isaiah Jackson (23) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)

Indiana Pacers center Goga Bitadze (88) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) and forward Herbert Jones (5) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP PhotoDerick Hingle)