Brandon Ingram’s playoff tear continues with 30 points in Game 4 to help the New Orleans Pelicans tie the series with the Phoenix Suns

NEW ORLEANS — Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram is four games away from the first playoff game of his six-year career — a fact his rookie teammate Jose Alvarado still can’t believe.

“That doesn’t seem to be the case,” Alvarado said when the topic came up after Sunday night’s Game 4. “He wants to win.”

It was another standout performance for Ingram, who finished with 30 points as the Pelicans beat the top-seeded Phoenix Suns 118-103 to tie their Western Conference first-round playoff series at 2- 2.

Ingram became the first player in Pelicans franchise history to score 30 points in three straight games, and he joined Allen Iverson and LeBron James as the only players with three 30-point games in their first four playoff games. career since the NBA-ABA merger (1976-77).

Additionally, Ingram’s 119 points in his first four playoff games is the fifth most by any player since the merger, behind only James (137), Anthony Davis (126), Luka Doncic (126) and Ja Morant (124).

“Brandon is playing some of his best basketballs of the season,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “He does it on the biggest stage. It’s great to see. He’s capable. I’ve said it before: he’s the real deal. And he gets out on the floor and puts the work in practice, and we see it on the bill.”

As he did in Game 2, the Pelicans’ other win in the series, Ingram started with 11 points in the first quarter. In Sunday’s third quarter, he came out on fire again, knocking down 7 of 11 shots on his way to 16 points.

He didn’t score in the fourth quarter, but the Pelicans didn’t need it. After Phoenix cut New Orleans’ lead to 88-83 with 9:02 to go, the Pelicans responded with a 12-0 run to take control.

“I think this is our moment,” Ingram said. “We work so hard throughout the year to become a better team. We finally have the chance to be on a very, very big stage and still play well.

“My teammates helped me a lot, they just put me in the right places, they passed the ball to me in the right areas. They just made me look good. It’s a team effort and I love to play with the guys.”

Ingram’s big third quarter was part of a trend for New Orleans. For the series, the Pelicans outscored the Suns in the third quarter 137-93. New Orleans scored at least 30 points each time, while the Suns scored 26 in Game 1 and were held to 23, 22 and 22 in the three games that followed.

The teams will face off in Game 5 on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

According to Elias Sports Bureau research, this is the 30th playoff series in which either team has won at least 25 more wins than its opponent; the Suns went 64-18, while the Pelicans were 36-46 this season. The team with the most regular season wins has won 28 of the previous 29 games. (The “We Believe” Golden State Warriors beat the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in 2007.)

And it’s only the ninth best-seven series in NBA history between a No. 1 seed and a No. 8 seed tied at 2-2. The 8th seed never won after being tied at two games.

The three previous 8-seeded seeds to beat a 1-seed in the best-of-seven series (Philadelphia 76ers in 2012, Memphis Grizzlies in 2011 and the Warriors in 2007) had a 3-1 lead early on. of game 5.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

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