- By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer
- New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) blocks a shot by Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Veronica Dominach)
By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis stood in front of Indiana’s bench, holding up his right arm triumphantly as his tough, 15-foot baseline fade went through to give New Orleans a four-point lead with 53 seconds left.
Davis pushed the advantage to six points with his gritty put-back of Jrue Holiday’s missed free throw with 15 seconds left. Then the 25-year-old, five-time All-Star added two more clutch free throws with 7.6 seconds left.
“The only thing I was thinking was like, ‘Please don’t go into overtime,'” recalled Davis, whose team is in the midst of playing five games in six nights. “Just knowing that, the player I am for this team, they look for me to make shots toward the end of the game. … I just tried to take it upon myself to make plays for the team.”
Davis finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, and the Pelicans outlasted the Pacers 96-92 on Wednesday night.
Pacers coach Nate McMillan said Davis “wanted it more,” particularly on his late put-back.
“We put our bigs in there and he beat us to the ball. He beat two guys to that ball,” McMillan said. “Those are the plays you have to make down the stretch and he made the play.”
E’Twaun Moore scored 23 for New Orleans, which had to overcome a scrappy defensive effort by Indiana to win its third straight.
The Pelicans, who average nearly 112 points per game, were limited to 43 percent (34 of 79) accuracy by the Pacers, who also turned 20 turnovers by New Orleans into 15 points.
“We got nothing that was easy,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “It was a really hard-fought, hard game to play.”
The Pacers shot only 36.6 percent (34 of 93), but kept the game close with 15 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points.
McMillan was generally displeased, given Indiana entered the game shooting 47.4 percent for the season.
“We didn’t show any poise out there tonight. We were playing too fast. Everybody was taking quick shots and just settling,” McMillan said. “I didn’t recognize our group tonight. We normally play good basketball and are playing connected.”
Neither team led by more than six, and the game was tied at 87 with 1:49 left, after Victor Oladipo’s block of Jrue Holiday sent Darren Collison away for a fast-break layup as he was fouled by Moore.
Moore put back his own miss with 1:24 to play to put the Pelicans back in front for good.
Nikola Mirotic scored 15 for New Orleans, including crucial back-to-back 3s inside the final four minutes after he’d started 0 for 7 from long range.
“I just want him to shoot the ball when he’s open,” Gentry said. “That also helps the flow of our offense.”
Oladipo led Indiana with 21 points. Myles Turner added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Turner had to play the last 4:29 with five fouls, but didn’t seem to think that significantly hurt his defensive play while Davis was closing out the game.
“Those were tough shots, man. I couldn’t defend it any better,” Turned said. “The player that he is, just tough shots in the clutch.”
Pacers: Dropped to 1-5 when scoring 92 or fewer points. … Shot their second-worst percentage of the season. … Went 7 of 22 (31.8 percent) from 3-point range. … Have recorded at least 10 steals in 10 of 15 games and 16 of 26. … Collison scored 11 points and Trevor Booker had 10.
Pelicans: Won despite scoring fewer than 100 for the first time since a 96-90 victory at Chicago on Nov. 4. … Finished their home schedule against the Eastern Conference at 11-4 and improved to 21-8 against the East overall. … Second-year forward Cheick Diallo had 10 rebounds to go with nine points. … F Solomon Hill, only two games into his comeback from a torn hamstring, was given the night off to rest and is expected to return for New Orleans’ next game.
Holiday returned from a one-game absence caused by flu symptoms. He scored 10 points and played effective late-game defense against Oladipo.
He wore a small bandage on his arm in the second half and said afterward he received fluids intravenously at halftime.
“Yeah, I needed that,” Holiday said. “I felt a lot better in the second half.”
The Pacers were in New Orleans for the second time this season because their originally scheduled visit on Feb. 7 was postponed by a roof leak. The makeup date has forced the Pelicans to play three games on consecutive nights this week.
Pacers: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
Pelicans: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball