NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Pelicans came away thrilled by their latest result after
blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in a 102-95 loss to San Antonio on Monday night. The Pelicans rebounded to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit for only the fifth time in 26 games this season to overtake the Atlanta Hawks 105-100 Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena.
The Pelicans (21-27) did it with a 22-5 run in a 6:03 stretch of the fourth quarter, with forward Anthony Davis scoring 10 of his game-high 27 points during the explosion that put New Orleans ahead 98-88 with 1:18 left.
Then, after the Hawks scored seven straight to cut the New Orleans lead to 98-95, guard Brian Roberts, who had been stripped of the ball beneath the basket on an inbounds play seconds earlier, hit a 10-foot runner in the lane to ice the game with 20.5 seconds left.
Roberts said he told coach Monty Williams during a timeout that he would make up for his nearly disastrous mistake.
“That was a tough turnover right there,” said Roberts, who scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half. “I just tried to move on focus on the next play. I said I was going to get it back, and I was able to make that floater and we were able to finish them off with the free throws.”
Guard Eric Gordon, who added 18 for the Pelicans, also converted a critical three-point play by getting forward DeMarre Carroll to bite on a pump fake and then drawing a foul on his way up and banking in a 20-foot jumper. When Gordon made the free throw, the Pelicans led for good, 88-85.
“He’s an aggressive defender and I try to mix it up,” Gordon said. “I remember I hit two pullups in a row, and on that third one I was going to see if he would get up in the air, and he did. I’m always going to try to create that foul.”
Another key sequence came at the start of the 22-5 run, when guard Anthony Morrow, who had 16 points, finished off a wild sequence in which center Greg Steimsma kept a missed shot alive by punching it out to the perimeter. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer called Morrow’s 3-pointer from the left wing a dagger.
“That possession is really where games are won and lost in the fourth quarter,” Budenholzer said. “It was our (lack of) execution down the stretch and just finding a way to get that defensive board. Even if it’s five or six minutes to go in a game, those are the kinds of plays that can really change a game.”
For most of the game, the Hawks seemingly could not miss from the perimeter. After missing their first four long-range jumpers, they hit nine consecutive threes. They finished 14 of 30 for the game — forward Paul Millsap hit 3 of 7 3-pointers for a team-high 26 points and Carroll was 4 of 6 for 22 points.
But down the stretch, perhaps because their legs were feeling the effects of playing the second night of a back-to-back, Atlanta misfired on 6 of their last 7 3-pointers.
“We knew that they played last night and we (needed to) just keep pushing, keep pushing,” Davis said. “We thought their legs would give in. A lot of their jump shots started coming up short, and we tried to capitalize on running the floor and getting easy opportunities.”
Davis rebounded from an abysmal 5 of 21 performance against San Antonio on Monday night. But Williams said Roberts was critical in picking up the scoring slack left by the absence of starting point guard Jrue Holiday.
“Brian Roberts probably looked around and didn’t see anyone making shots, so he stepped up,” Williams said. “I told him to play free. The first half I thought he was a bit tight. I’m always telling our guys, ‘Everybody has written you off, so what do you have to lose? Just go out there and play. I got your back either way.'”
NOTES: The Pelicans signed 6-foot-9 F Luke Babbitt, who played 13 games in Russia this year with Nizhny Novgorod, where he averaged 13.3 points and 3.7 rebounds. “He’s a guy who can shoot the ball,” said Pelicans coach Monty Williams. “He has the ability to play the 3, and maybe in a pinch he could play the 4 to stretch the floor. He’s a serious kid who really loves to work.” … New Orleans owns the rights to PG Pierre Jackson, who set a D-League scoring record with 58 points on Tuesday night. While Williams said there are no plans to bring him up, “when a guy drops 50-something points, it does get your interest a little bit.” … Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said F Paul Millsap (17.5 ppg and 8.3 rpg) deserves his All-Star selection. “We really encouraged him to expand his range and shoot 3s,” Budenholzer said. “He’s just a high IQ guy.”
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