Late work from Davis, Holiday lifts Pelicans past Suns
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(TSX / STATS) -- NEW ORLEANS -- During their recent 0-3 road trip, the New Orleans Pelicans played so atrociously on offense in the fourth quarter that coach Alvin Gentry would have been well-advised to check the status of his long-term annuities.
In losing to Toronto, Detroit and Washington over the past seven days, the Pelicans were outscored 72-35 in the fourth quarter, averaging a paltry 11.7 points in the final 12 minutes.
On Monday night against the Phoenix Suns, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday decided the buck, and the bricks, would stop there. The pair combined for 27 of the Pelicans' 34 points in the fourth quarter in a 111-106 victory at the Smoothie King Center.
Davis scored a game-high 34 points, including six free throws in the final 67 seconds, and Holiday added 30 points and seven assists to help the Pelicans (20-32) snap a four-game losing streak. David and Holiday each grabbed nine rebounds.
"All the games we lost recently, we were ahead going into the fourth quarter but we just weren't able to execute at the end," said Davis, who scored 14 points while sinking 7 of 9 free throws in the final quarter as New Orleans erased a 99-94 deficit with a 19-7 run over the final 2:40. "Tonight we executed and got some big stops."
The Suns (16-36) took the five-point lead by scoring six consecutive points, but they wound up losing for the seventh time in eight games. Eric Bledsoe made two free throws after being fouled on a jumper, P.J. Tucker made a back-door layup on a nice feed from Devin Booker, and T.J. Warren, who scored a team-high 20 points, made a rebound follow as Phoenix took a 99-94 advantage with 2:57 remaining.
New Orleans still trailed 101-96 with 2:28 left before running off six consecutive points -- four by Holiday -- to go back in front 102-101 with 1:24 left. The go-ahead basket came on Holiday's spin move on Leandro Barbosa near the foul line, which led to an uncontested layup.
Holiday went 4 of 6 from the field in the fourth quarter, including a step-back 3-pointer from the top of the key with 64 seconds left that put New Orleans in front for good, 103-102. He finished the quarter with 13 points, two assists and two blocks.
"He's an All-Star, man," Davis said of Holiday. "He plays hard. He's got a lot of stuff in his package. He made a big 3 for us. When he gets mad -- when they call a foul when he thinks it's not a foul -- he just takes over a game and does some unbelievable stuff."
Phoenix coach Earl Watson said, "The last two minutes and 55 seconds, Jrue Holiday was dominant. I think (Davis) had six to eight points where mainly Jrue was attacking the basket."
Holiday said the Pelicans had a hard time executing down the stretch on the road, something they were able to fix against the Suns.
"I think it was a little mental," Holiday said. "Obviously, we were on a road trip and got a little fatigued. To be a good team, mentally we have to be on the same page and be able to do it night in and night out."
The Pelicans tightened the screws defensively against Booker, who had come into the game having scored at least 20 points in a career-long streak of 16 consecutive games. Booker was held to 14 points on 5-of-20 shooting, and he missed all seven shots he took in the fourth quarter.
Watson said Bledsoe, who was held to 14 points, played just 24 minutes because he was physically spent.
"It was just fatigue," Watson said. "Eric has been playing well. He'll get past the physical wall right now, but it's part of the process."
Gentry said he was thrilled with the one-two offensive punch provided by Davis and Holiday.
"If they can get 64 every night, we'll be in good shape," Gentry said. "I like that formula. I just thought Jrue was really aggressive, and I thought AD did a really good job of letting the game come to him. I didn't think he really forced anything. (The Suns) tried to be physical with him, and he did a great job of not letting that bother him."
NOTES: Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said he could not address rumored trade talks that had the 76ers sending backup C Jahlil Okafor to New Orleans for reserve C Alexis Ajinca and a future draft pick. "Obviously, I think at this time of the year, all the GMs are talking back and forth," Gentry said before the game. "I think with that situation right there, it's best that you ask (GM) Dell (Demps). ... New Orleans F Anthony Davis is fighting through a sore right quad. ... Phoenix coach Earl Watson was still stunned by G Devon Booker's 27-point outburst in a 7:14 stretch of the second quarter in a loss to Milwaukee on Saturday night. "The first thing I thought about is I have zero to do with that -- zero," Watson said. "Just when I thought coaching was so difficult, you get lucky like that. It's like cheating -- like having a cheat code to a video game."
Updated February 7, 2017