NEW ORLEANS — Reserve shooting guard Anthony Morrow scored 20 of his season-high 27 points in the first half and forward Darius Miller, playing emergency point guard, hit five of his career-high 16 points in the final 2:46 to lift the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans to a 98-96 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night at the Smoothie King Center.
It was the Pelicans’ fourth consecutive victory — their longest winning streak of the season. Forward Anthony Davis had 16 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, and he hit 1 of 2 free throws with 9.4 seconds left to give the Pelicans their 98-96 lead. Miller hit two big jumpers — one a 3-pointer — down the stretch.
The Clippers (50-22), who entered the game having won 13 of 14, had a chance to either win or tie the game on the final possession with 8.8 seconds left, trailing 98-96.
But guard Jamal Crawford, who scored a game-high 31 points by nailing 7 of 15 3-pointers, missed a 25-footer at the buzzer. Guard Chris Paul missed all 12 of his field goal attempts.
The Clippers scored nine consecutive points early in the third quarter to take a 63-57 lead, but New Orleans regained the lead with an 11-4 surge, capped by Morrow’s 3-pointer after Davis blocked his fifth shot of the game on the other end.
Paul finally got on the scoreboard with two free throws with 2:52 left in the quarter, but by that time he was 0 of 9 from the floor. Even though the Clippers hit nine 3-pointers through three quarters, the Pelicans led 76-75.
New Orleans opened the fourth quarter with a 12-3 run, with four points each from forward Tyreke Evans, Miller and backup center Alexis Ajinca, to extend its lead to 88-81. But the Clippers continued their perimeter assault, with Crawford and forward Matt Barnes hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 90-89 with 5:01 left.
The Pelicans dressed out only nine players, and Morrow got the start at shooting guard only because Eric Gordon was out with left knee tendinitis. Morrow responded by scoring 20 first-half points on 8-of-12 shooting, and New Orleans led 55-52 at halftime.
The Pelicans led despite a sluggish offensive start by Davis, who picked up his second foul six minutes into the game. Davis scored just six points in the first half.
The Clippers, meanwhile, got 19 first-half points in 18 minutes from Crawford, who made 5 of 8 from the 3-point line. Crawford entered the game with 1,680 career 3-pointers and passed Steve Nash (1,684) for 11th place all-time on the all-time NBA career 3-point list.
Paul struggled, missing all six of his shots in the first half, but he dished out seven assists, and guard Darren Collison added six assists.
NOTES: The Pelicans were down three guards against the Clippers. SG Eric Gordon (right knee tendinitis), PG Brian Roberts (bone bruise in left knee, calf strain) and reserve PG Austin Rivers (respiratory infection) all were sidelined, forcing coach Monty Williams to move Tyreke Evans to the point and start Anthony Morrow at shooting guard. “(Evans) has played point guard before,” Williams said. “The issue for us is spelling him and giving him some time off.” … The Clippers had won 13 of 14 games overall and six straight against New Orleans coming into the game. … Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the Clippers’ new arrivals, Fs Glen Davis and Danny Granger, have “really fit in. They still have stuff to get, but they’re learning.” … Rivers said as the playoffs approach, he will pare down offensively and defensively, preferring to use things that have worked the best during the regular season. “We already know there’s 10 things we won’t run because they don’t work or don’t work consistently enough,” he said.
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