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Pelicans overcome 22-point deficit, beat Nets

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NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans trailed Brooklyn by 22 points in the third quarter, and, by all accounts, the Nets seemed to be coasting to their fifth consecutive victory and 12th win in 14 games.

“It’s the NBA, man – you play it out,” said New Orleans coach Monty Williams, referring to the 66-44 hole his team had dug for itself two minutes into the second half. “Obviously, you can’t have any 22-point plays, so you have to go possession by possession.”

The Pelicans made every possession count in the final 22 minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime, and their defensive tenacity sparked the second-biggest comeback victory in franchise history – a 109-104 victory over the Nets (37-32) Monday night at the Smoothie Kind Center.

Reserve guard Anthony Morrow overcame a frigid shooting night to bury a pair of 3-pointers in overtime, and New Orleans got a season-high 33 points from guard Tyreke Evans to erase the 22-point deficit, lifting the Pelicans (30-40) to their seventh win in 10 games. Forward Anthony Davis added 24 points and 14 rebounds.

“I just know we don’t give in,” Williams said.

Neither did Morrow, who missed eight of his first 10 shots, including three consecutive long-range jumpers in a two-minute span of the end of regulation and the overtime period. With the score tied at 100 in overtime, Morrow badly missed on a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Williams tried to quickly substitute Luke Babbitt for Morrow, but Babbitt was too late getting to the scorer’s table.

The Pelicans then took a 103-100 lead on guard Brian Roberts’ 3-pointer from the right wing. After Davis blocked a driving layup by guard Shaun Livingston on the other end, Morrow got the ball once again in the left corner. This time he buried a 3-pointer to put New Orleans up, 106-100.

“I was trying to get A-Mo (Morrow) out of the game and I couldn’t get Luke there in time,” Williams said. “He comes right back and hits a shot and runs over to me and says, ‘I ain’t going to miss no more.'”

On the Pelicans’ next possession Morrow hit another 3, this time from the top of the key, and New Orleans led 109-102 with 54.5 seconds left.

“I had missed a couple, but I work hard every day,” said Morrow, who scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime. “My shots felt good. You’re not going to make all of them. That’s the beauty of the game. It’s unpredictable. But one thing that is predictable is that every day I’m one of the first guys in here working hard, so I got 100 percent confidence in my shot.”

The Nets led 58-42 at halftime, but the Pelicans held them to 40 points in the final two quarters and six points in overtime. Brooklyn shot just 30.6 percent from the field in the final 29 minutes (15-for-49), and the Nets were a stone cold 4-of-23 (17.4 percent) from 3-point range in the second half and overtime.

The Nets took 40 3-pointers, missing their final six attempts in overtime.

“That might be a tad high for us, but late in the game we were trying to create something, so there were a lot of late 3s you can disregard,” said Nets coach Jason Kidd.

Evans was spectacular on the offensive end, breaking down Brooklyn’s defense at will with spinning drives through the lane. He made 13 of 19 shots – including a four-point play in the second half – and scored 22 points after halftime.

“He’s got some abilities on both ends of the floor,” Williams said. “When he’s in transition, there’s not too many people who can stop him.”

“I was in attack mode,” Evans said. “They were talking trash, and we weren’t about to back down to nobody. We’re a young team, but we don’t get pushed around.”

The Nets were paced by forward Paul Pierce with 24 points and guard Deron Williams with 23, but Brooklyn could not hold the big lead.

“If we want to be a great team – not a good team – we have to be greedy,” Livingston said. “We have to push 10-point leads to 20, and 20-point leads to 30.”

Or, at the very least, not let a 22-point lead evaporate.

NOTES: Nets coach Jason Kidd said he was pleased G Joe Johnson was named the Eastern Conference’s player of the week. The Nets went 4-0 and Johnson averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Johnson also hit a driving layup with 9.9 seconds left in a 107-104 overtime road win against Dallas on Sunday. Dating back to Nov. 20, 2012, Johnson is 13 of 16 from the field when the Nets are tied or trailing by three or fewer points with less than a minute left. “He just embraces the moment,” Kidd said. “If you have it, you have it. It’s just a natural thing for Joe, and he’s delivered.” … Nets F Andrei Kirilenko (sprained left ankle) missed his 32nd game of the season. … The Pelicans played without SG Eric Gordon (tendinitis in his left knee) for the second consecutive game.