The Pelican Blog

Austin Rivers dribbles against New York defender Tim Hardaway Jr. postgame: Knicks 98, Pelicans 91

By: Jim Eichenhofer,, @Jim_Eichenhofer

On one end of the floor Wednesday night, All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony was doing everything in his power to carry the Knicks to a road victory. On the other, a group of lesser-known Pelicans tried to will the home team to a come-from-behind win.

Anthony ultimately prevailed in a late-game seesaw battle between New York (21-33) and New Orleans (23-30), scoring 13 of the Knicks’ 20 final-period points, enough to hold off a pesky Pelicans squad that was sparked by its reserves in crunch time. Three days after pouring in 30 points on the Smoothie King Center hardwood during the NBA All-Star Game, Anthony racked up 42 points against New Orleans.

The Pelicans erased a 78-70 lead through three quarters behind an unlikely five-man unit of backups Austin Rivers, Anthony Morrow, Tyreke Evans, Luke Babbitt and Greg Stiemsma, going on an 11-0 run early in the fourth. That quintet scored all but four of the home team’s points in the fourth, grabbing an 89-88 edge at 3:58. The Pelicans were still in front 91-90 when Evans made a mid-range shot with 2:28 to go, but New York’s standout Anthony scored six straight points for a 96-91 lead at 0:40. Raymond Felton iced the Knicks victory by sinking a pair of free throws with 25 ticks left.

“Carmelo Anthony just hit some big, tough shots,” said Rivers, who finished with a bench-high 14 points. “There were a couple plays we just didn’t execute that were the difference between us winning and losing.”

“He’s a superstar, obviously,” Babbitt said of Anthony. “We were trying to mix up the (defensive) looks. He was in a zone tonight. He was in a rhythm. He made some plays down the stretch tonight that really hurt us.”

“He hit tough shots,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said of one of the NBA’s premier scorers. “A lot of those shots, he had a hand in his face.”

New Orleans had trailed entering the fourth quarter in each of its previous two home games, but still came back to win against Atlanta and Minnesota on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7. This time, the Pelicans came up a few plays short of another home victory. They had won four of their last five games at home, with the only defeat coming Feb. 3 against defending Western Conference champion San Antonio.

Eric Gordon led New Orleans with 28 points, scoring all of those points in the first three quarters. Anthony Davis had a relatively quiet game by his lofty standards, but still finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, including a couple while Davis was tasked with guarding Anthony one-on-one.