The New Orleans Pelicans were coming off two frustrating home losses in which they blew late leads.
All-Star power forward Anthony Davis did all he could to make sure that didn’t happen again Sunday, and this time the Pelicans didn’t fold. They held on for a 121-120 overtime victory against the Boston Celtics at the Smoothie King Center.
Davis scored 40 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, the first such performance in franchise history, with each statistic a career high. It was the first such showing in an NBA game since Dwight Howard in 2012.
Davis also had three blocks, making it the eighth time in NBA history a player has had 40 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks.
The win let the Pelicans (27-39) match last year’s total with 16 games left.
“I was just trying to be aggressive, and my teammates did a good job of finding me,” said Davis, who had his sixth consecutive game with at least 28 points, also a franchise record. “We had lost our last two games, and we wanted to come away with a win.”
Davis did not score in overtime, but he grabbed six rebounds. And his biggest play may have been one that was mental.
Boston forward Jeff Green drove for a three-point play with 5.7 seconds left in overtime, cutting the Pelicans’ lead to the final margin.
New Orleans took the ball at halfcourt, and Davis wound up with the ball going toward the basket after the out-of-bounds play. But he turned and passed the ball to guard Anthony Morrow, setting up a series of passes that enabled the clock to run out and secure the victory.
“I don’t have a big basketball IQ, but I do have some basketball IQ,” joked Davis, who played 47 minutes and 42 seconds and told coach Monty Williams he wasn’t coming out in the fourth quarter or overtime. “I lured (Boston center) Kris Humphries to me, but I didn’t want to get fouled.”
Boston coach Brad Stevens, asked why the Celtics (22-45) didn’t foul and put a Pelican at the free-throw line and give themselves a chance at tying or winning 3-pointer, said there was a “defensive miscommunication.”
Eric Gordon sank two free throws, giving the Pelicans a 121-117 lead after he was fouled with 19.4 seconds left in overtime when the Pelicans inbounded the ball. But Green, who scored 39 points, drove for that three-point play.
New Orleans trailed 114-113 with 3:48 remaining in the five-minute extra period. Point guard Brian Roberts hit a short baseline jumper a minute later, then Tyreke Evans drove for consecutive baskets, giving the Pelicans a 119-114 lead at 1:34.
It appeared there would be no need for overtime, that another team would be the victim this time.
Davis had given the Pelicans a 112-110 lead with a 19-footer jumper with 2.5 seconds left in regulation. Humphries sent the game to overtime when he caught a pass in the corner and sank a long shot over Davis’ outstretched hand as the horn sounded.
New Orleans led 110-107, but Al-Farouq Aminu was called for a foul against Green attempting a 3-pointer. Green sank all three free throws, tying the score with 4.9 seconds left.
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