In beating the Denver Nuggets 105-89 Friday night at the New
Orleans Arena — the Pelicans' third consecutive solid performance
and second straight victory — New Orleans beat a team with a
winning record for the first time this season.
"We're not going to get happy on the farm," Williams said after
handing the Nuggets their fifth consecutive defeat, Denver's longest
losing streak since February 2012. "But it's great when you get
contributions from a number of guys, and not just offensively. We
got a lift from our bench defensively."
The Pelicans (13-14) did it with offensive balance — without the
help of shooting guard Eric Gordon, who is nursing a sore hip — and
with defensive pressure that held the Nuggets to 40.2 percent
shooting and just 64 points over the final three quarters.
New Orleans placed six players in double figures, led by reserve
guard Tyreke Evans' 19 points and 10 assists in 32 minutes. The
Pelicans also got 17 points, eight assists and four steals from
point guard Jrue Holiday; 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks — three in the fourth quarter — from forward Anthony Davis; and 16
points from forward Ryan Anderson.
They also got 11 points off the bench from forward Darius Miller and
11 points and eight rebounds from forward Al-Farouq Aminu.
The Pelicans' bench outscored the Nuggets' reserves 24-2 in the
first half and 36-17 overall. Just as important, the Pelicans
outrebounded the Nuggets 53-42 after having been manhandled on the
boards 51-32 by the Nuggets on Dec. 15.
"We just came out and threw the first punch," Evans said. "In
practice, we beat the blue squad (the starters), and coach said
that's how you have to do it. We just kept it up for the entire
game. We owed them from Denver. They kicked our butts in rebounding,
and one of our main focus was to try to go down and help our bigs
out and I think we did a good job of that."
The Pelicans led by as many as 18 points but saw the Nuggets claw
back to within 93-87 with 2:53 left on a 3-point jumper by Quincy
But that's when Holiday and Davis took over the game. Holiday fed
Davis on a pick-and-roll that ended with a feathery layup off an
alley oop, making it 95-87. Then after guard Jordan Hamilton missed
a 3-pointer, Holiday again fed Davis for a layup on a drive down the
left side. Holiday added a floater in the lane with 1:45 left,
putting the Pelicans comfortably in front, 99-87.
As happy as he was with Davis' 17 points and seven rebounds,
Williams was upset that his star second-year forward picked up three
quick fouls that limited him to seven minutes in the first half.
"I'm tough on him," Williams said. "I really feel like he has the
ability to have monster games. I know how good he can be. He has the
ability to go for 25 and 20. Did he play OK? Yeah. He helped us win
the game. But I want to push him to play even better."
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Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, whose team slipped to 14-14, said
allowing 34 first-quarter points on 52 percent shooting to the
Pelicans was not the way to start a back-to-back road trip.
"It really set us back," Shaw said. "We dug ourselves a hole and
were expending a lot of our energy trying to come back. I don't
think our first team or second team has the chemistry with the
injuries to some of our key starters. We must play through the
adversity and turn this season around."
The Nuggets got a game-high 22 points from forward Wilson
Chandler, but the Nuggets made just 26 percent from the 3-point
"As usual, we got off to a slow start in the first quarter and
we had to fight from behind the whole game," said Denver reserve
forward Anthony Randolph. "At that point, it's a little bit too
NOTES: Pelicans SG Eric Gordon, who was undercut by Sacramento's
Isaiah Thomas on a layup attempt in 113-100 road victory over
the Kings on Monday night, suffered a right hip contusion and
missed Friday night's game against the Nuggets. He is day to
day. "It's one of those injuries that looks bad and feels bad,"
Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "There's not much padding on
your hips." ... Rather than insert sixth-man Tyreke Evans as
Gordon's replacement, Williams gave the start to Anthony Morrow
"because it gives us shooting and spacing on the floor that can
help Anthony (Davis) and Ryan (Anderson). We thought about
Tyreke, but I like the lift he gives us off the bench." ...
After four consecutive losses — and four losses in five home
games — Nuggets coach Brian Shaw inserted SG Jordan Hamilton
into the starting lineup, sending Randy Foye, who has been
struggling with his shooting, to the bench. "I'll see how it
goes," Shaw said. "Hopefully, it doesn't blow up in my face. ...
Sometimes, when you're pressing as a team and going through a
tough stretch, the pressure of playing at home in front of your
home crowd is tough, and some guys looks forward to going on the
road." ... Nuggets F Kenneth Faried missed his second
consecutive game with a sprained left ankle. ... Shaw has been
thoroughly impressed with Pelicans F Anthony Davis. "You thought
of him (in college) as just a defensive guy who could block
shots and rebound," Shaw said. "His offensive game has come
along, and he's really expanded it in terms of being able to
knock down jump shots out to 15 to 17 feet."
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