Pelicans’ rugged road trip ends on higher note

It took two trips to Los Angeles in four days to get it right, but the New Orleans Pelicans finally stopped their

losing streak at eight games Tuesday night.

“It feels good now, but we can’t be content,” point guard Brian Roberts said after their 132-125 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. “We can’t just be happy with this win. We have to go home and take care of ourselves.”

New Orleans’ two visits to Staples couldn’t have provided more contrast. On Saturday, the Pelicans scored a season-low 76 points in a 32-point loss to the Clippers. On Tuesday, New Orleans scored its 76th point with 9:23 left in the third quarter, and was just a 3-pointer away from matching the season-high 135 points scored Nov. 16 against Philadelphia.

“It’s a big win,” said All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who had 28 points and 15 rebounds in the Pelicans’ first victory since Feb. 12 at Milwaukee. “We needed this win to get back on track. We need to get back in rhythm, so it was a really big win.”

Eric Gordon matched Davis with 28 points, as he hit 9 of 13 shots, including 4 of 5 3-pointers. Tyreke Evans, in his fourth game as a starter, had 24 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists. Roberts scored 19, 17 coming in the second half and 10 in a crucial fourth-quarter stretch.

“It felt great,” coach Monty Williams said. “The way we played, they scored a lot of points, but I thought our defense wasn’t as bad. We didn’t want to give them a lot of threes (the Lakers hit 10 of 22 from beyond the arc), so we gave up a ton of twos and it helped us because then when we did get stops we were out in transition.”

In his pregame interview session, Williams said the key to stopping the Lakers — who came in on a two-game winning streak, something the Pelicans haven’t experienced since Feb. 5-7 — was transition defense. New Orleans did a good job of that in the first half, and got the jump on the Lakers with transition offense.

“We’ve just got to play more to our talents,” said Gordon, who along with Evans attacked the lane relentlessly from the outset. “It can be hard for teams to guard us. We opened up the floor, we spread it out and attacked.”

The Pelicans, who were one assist shy of tying their season-high of 30, built a 21-point lead at 74-53 with 9:54 left in the third quarter — only to have the Lakers come scrambling back. Los Angeles cut its deficit to 128-125 with 18.1 seconds remaining, but two Gordon free throws kept the Lakers at bay.

“It almost got away from us early in the fourth quarter, but it just feels good to win a game after all that we’ve been through,” Williams said.

Fat Tuesday was nearly over in Louisiana when the Pelicans, on the eighth day of their Mardi Gras road trip, finally

broke through.

“Anthony Davis hit some shots early on, but Tyreke and Eric and Austin (Rivers) as well did a good job of attacking the basket,” Williams said. “I thought we did a lot of taking tonight (in driving the lane) ... Tyreke, he’s so strong, he can take space. He and Eric were in the paint a lot early.”

New Orleans (24-37) plays at home Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks, an 11-win team the Pelicans defeated 102-98 for victory No. 23.

Pelicans at the Aquarium

Davis, Ryan Anderson, Jeff Withey and Greg Stiemsma will be at the Audubon Aquarium of Americas from 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday to sign autographs.

The Pelicans and Audubon Nature Institute recently announced a partnership to preserve Louisiana’s coast and wetlands. The partnership will focus on educating students on the effects of coastal restoration on the region, as well as inspiring them to take action to ensure the long-term health of the coast.