Brandon Ingram name-drops Lu Dort after Thunder best Pelicans in Game 1

New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One
New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Sunday evening, the OKC Thunder took care of business on their homecourt in Game 1 of their first-round matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, besting the visiting number eight seed by a final score of 94-92.

A close-call affair that saw a wild 20 lead changes, both clubs fought vigorously until the exhilarating closing seconds of regulation when NOLA star CJ McCollum's three-point heave fell just short at the buzzer.

As the case has been all throughout their illustrious campaign when the team pulls off triumphant victories, MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the name that is most frequently receiving credit for the win and, considering his tremendous box score (28 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and clutch play down the stretch, it's hard to argue against such a happening.

However, as fans and onlookers alike will likely attest, the real catalyst in OKC's victory proved to be overall team defense, as the Thunder held New Orleans to just 38.5 percent shooting from the floor and 28.2 percent shooting from deep while forcing them into a whopping 13 turnovers.

On top of this, the Pelicans' number one option Brandon Ingram had himself quite an inefficient outing, as he wrapped his night up with a mere 12 points on a putrid 5-of-17 shooting from the floor, a far cry from his standard 20.8 points per game in 2023-24 on 49.2 percent shooting.

Following the contest, when discussing his lackluster performance, the All-Star forward was quick to address what he believed to be one of the main factors that aided in his offensive follies: Thunder veteran, Lu Dort.

Brandon Ingram praises Thunder veteran Lu Dort's defensive efforts

"I thought Lu Dort did a good job of keeping his hands on me, being physical, keeping his body on me tonight. "

Brandon Ingram

Dort, a player who many Thunder fans are convinced should be in the running for this year's Defensive Player of the Year award, proved his worth on the less glamorous side of the ball once again in his matchup against Ingram, a player he shadowed for the majority of Game 1, and received praise from coach Mark Daigneult for his "disruptive" presence on the night.

Teammate Jalen Williams also went on record postgame to make the case that the 25-year-old should be a "first team defender" this season and, considering his top rank in matchup difficulty, the advanced metrics seem to agree with this sentiment as well.

His efforts Sunday night certainly served as a strong case for why he should be in the running for such honors and served as a reminder to Thunder fans why he's a vital component of the team's title aspirations.