“They just made a few more plays than us down the stretch.” MIKE BUDENHOLZER, Hawks coach
One game after being blown away by the San Antonio Spurs in the fourth quarter, the New Orleans Pelicans had a big performance in it on Wednesday night.
The Pelicans fought off the Atlanta Hawks by outscoring them 34-25 in the fourth on their way to a 105-100 victory at New Orleans Arena.
Anthony Davis (10 points), Anthony Morrow (nine) and Brian Roberts (eight) combined to score 27 points in the quarter. Roberts had key baskets late, and Gordon made a huge three-point play that sent the Pelicans on their way to victory.
Roberts had made a turnover that resulted in a layup as the Hawks’ made a late run that brought them to 98-95 with 39.6 seconds left. Coach Monty Williams said Roberts told him he’d get that back for the team. He then made a runner off the backboard with 20.5 seconds left that sealed the victory.
“It was a tough turnover,” said Roberts, who also sank two free throws with 6.4 seconds left. “I tried to move on and focus on the next play. I was able to get that back and make the floater, and we finished them off with the free throws.”
The victory was the fifth in seven games for the Pelicans (21-27) and the third in four home games. And it put New Orleans at 2-1 on this four-game home stand with rugged Minnesota up next Friday.
Atlanta (25-23) was playing the second of back-to-back games, having lost at Indiana on Tuesday.
The Pelicans weathered 14-of-30 3-point shooting by the Hawks, much of which had them in control through three quarters. However, New Orleans (5-of-14) on 3-pointers made up for it by pounding Atlanta on the boards (50-38) and shooting 20-of-22 from the foul line to 10-of-14 by the Hawks, as Atlanta’s outside shooting proved to be a live-by, die-by proposition.
“Everybody rebounded, and that’s something we’ve been preaching with our having a depleted lineup,” Williams said. “And although we made shots in the fourth quarter, our defense — the fact that we made stops late — was big.”
Davis led the way with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Roberts finished with 19, getting 17 in the second half. Gordon scored 18, including a big three-point play that started the key push, and Anthony Morrow had his second consecutive big game off the bench, scoring 16 points.
Former Louisiana Tech standout Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
New Orleans took the victory by steeling themselves down the stretch. Gordon started it with the score tied at 85 with 4:53 left in the game. Fouled across the arms by DeMarre Carroll 19 feet from the basket, Gordon willed the ball off the backboard and in, then hit the free throw.
“That three-point play by Gordon was a huge shot,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “DeMarre bit on the pump fake, and (Gordo) banked it in. They just made a few more plays than us down the stretch.”
That gave the Pelicans a lift. From there, Davis hit an 18-footer at the 3:39 mark, Roberts followed with a pull-up jumper at 3:09, then Davis a floater a half minute later. Morrow — traded by Atlanta last season — sank a jumper in the lane with 1:22 left for a 96-88 lead, then Davis made two free throws that seemed to have sealed the win.
But the Hawks made it interesting with a 3-pointer, the basket after Roberts’ turnover at 1:04, and finally a roll to the basket and hard dunk by Millsap with 39.6 seconds left.
Atlanta had taken an 83-76 lead with 7:41 showing in the fourth on its 13th 3-pointer of the game, this one by Mike Scott.
However, that’s when the Pelicans went on a game-saving run. Davis started it with two free throws, and New Orleans scored nine consecutive points to take an 85-83 lead with 5:21 left.
Tyreke Evans was held out of Wednesday’s game after injuring his right rib on Monday night against San Antonio. Coach Monty Williams said Evans may have a cartilage injury. “Somehow, it may have a split in it,” Williams said. “When that happens to players, it may hurt really bad for a week, and then it goes away.” … As part of his role as an NBA All-Star Jam Session Ambassador, Evans will host a special king cake event at 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Thursday at the Peristyle in City Park. Fans will have the opportunity to search a 50-foot king cake for tokens for prizes, including NBA Jam Session tickets and NBA merchandise. More than 1,000 Jam Session tickets will be given away. This event is free and open to the public. … Pierre Jackson, a 2013 second-round draft pick who came to the Pelicans in the Jrue Holiday trade with Philadelphia, set an NBA Development League record with 58 points in Idaho’s victory against the Texas Legends on Tuesday night in Boise. Jackson leads the league in scoring at 30.1 points per game.