Pelicans.com postgame: Pelicans 105, Hawks 100
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
In the New Orleans Pelicans’ current short-handed state, with multiple key performers out of action due to injury, head coach Monty Williams sometimes reminds his players that outsiders aren’t necessarily expecting big things from them.
“I’m always telling our guys everybody has written you guys off, so what do you have to lose?” Williams said. “Just go out there and play. I’ve got your back either way.”
By virtue of Wednesday’s come-from-behind victory over Atlanta, the reconfigured and new-outlook Pelicans (21-27) have now won five of their last seven games. The latest victory over an Eastern Conference foe (after recent wins vs. Detroit, Orlando, Cleveland and Chicago) was sparked by a pair of backcourt players who were out of the rotation for brief stretches early in 2013-14, but have responded to greater opportunities to contribute.
Trailing 75-71 entering the fourth quarter, New Orleans outscored Atlanta by a 34-25 margin in the final 12 minutes. As usual, power forward Anthony Davis (27 points, 10 rebounds) led the Pelicans down the stretch, scoring 10 of his points during the late-game surge. But New Orleans also received nine fourth-quarter points from reserve guard Anthony Morrow and eight points from Brian Roberts in overtaking Atlanta.
The fourth-quarter rally was a complete reversal from Monday’s home loss to San Antonio, which erased a 12-point deficit against New Orleans by surging to a 38-19 final-period edge and 102-95 verdict.
“I know that was kind of in my mind coming into this game, just wanting to bounce back,” Roberts said of the turnaround from two days earlier. “(We wanted to) finish the game better, and I think we did that tonight. We played hard pretty much the whole game. In the fourth quarter, we stepped it up.”
New Orleans was down 83-76 with 7:45 remaining, but launched a 22-5 run that put the Pelicans in front 98-88 at 1:18. Atlanta put together a 7-0 run to cut it to 98-95, but couldn’t get any closer. Roberts sank a mid-range runner to give the Pelicans a 100-95 edge with 20.5 seconds remaining, the back-breaking play to quell the Hawks’ hopes of rallying in the final minute.
Overall, in addition to Davis’ game-high 27 points, Roberts totaled 19, while Morrow added 16, including going 2-for-3 from three-point range against one of his former NBA teams. Morrow is now the NBA leader in three-point percentage this season and has been excellent in the past two games, scoring 20 points in 22 minutes against San Antonio.
“He played big tonight,” Davis said of one of the team’s most experienced NBA players. “We’re going to need him to play like that in a couple more games before the All-Star (break).”
The Pelicans improved to 13-5 this season against Eastern Conference opponents, including 7-2 at home. They’ll wrap up their four-game homestand Friday vs. Minnesota (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.), before taking on three more East foes next week, on a road trip that stops in Brooklyn, Toronto and Milwaukee.