Plucky Pelicans shock Rockets, Bucks bounce back in Detroit
By Agence France-Presse
The New Orleans Pelicans shrugged off multiple injuries and uncertainty surrounding star Anthony Davis on Tuesday, rallying for a 121-116 NBA victory over the Houston Rockets.
One day after Davis requested a trade, and with five of the team’s top six scorers — Anthony included — absent because of injury, the Pelicans withstood a 37-point performance from Rockets star James Harden to triumph.
Jahlil Okafor scored 27 points for New Orleans. Jrue Holiday added 19 and Ian Clark chipped in 15 off the bench for a New Orleans team that used its 20th different starting lineup of the season thanks to injuries to Davis, Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton.
New Orleans took the lead for the first time in the game with 2:06 left in the third quarter on Kenrich Williams’ basket — and they never trailed again.
Holiday played a key role with six blocked shots, helping slow scoring juggernaut Harden just enough to get the job done.
Harden notched his 24th straight game of at least 30 points, but his 17 in the fourth quarter weren’t enough to turn the tide.
Davis, sidelined by a finger injury, watched from the bench hours after he was fined $50,000 by the NBA because his agent’s public revelation of his desire to be traded violated league rules.
“That’s going to play out the way it plays out,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said before the game. “I think everything that needed to be said has been said.”
Milwaukee’s MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points and handed out 11 assists to lead the Bucks to a 115-105 victory over the Pistons in Detroit.
The Bucks, who lost to Oklahoma City on Sunday, underscored their bounce-back credentials with the win. They are the only NBA team that hasn’t lost two in a row at any point this season.
Brook Lopez scored 12 of his 14 points for Milwaukee in the first quarter as foul trouble limited Antetokounmpo.
Eric Bledsoe added 20 points, reserve Pat Connaughton scored 16 and Khris Middleton chipped in 15 for the Bucks, who have won seven of eight games and stretched their league-leading record to 36-13.
In Brooklyn, the Nets shook off the fatigue of the second night of a back-to-back, grinding out a 122-117 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
The Nets overcame a nine-point second-half deficit thanks to strong second-half performances from D’Angelo Russell and Shabazz Napier.
Napier’s three-pointer with 5:07 remaining in the third quarter put them up 71-67 and he drained a jump shot to make it 75-70.
Chicago cut the deficit to 107-104 with 2:54 to play, but Joe Harris drained a three and put in a layup as the Nets held on.
Napier scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half, while Russell led all scorers with 30 points.
– Suns ‘robbed’ –
Rudy Gay’s buzzer-beating jump shot lifted the San Antonio Spurs to a 126-124 victory over the lowly Phoenix Suns — a win that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he didn’t think his team deserved.
“We had no respect for them or for the game,” Popovich said after Phoenix, last in the Western Conference at 11-42, connected on 60 percent of their shots from the field and 44.8 percent from three-point range.”
“It was a pathetic performance and Phoenix got robbed,” Popovich said.
Devin Booker scored 38 points but it wasn’t enough as the Suns endured their ninth straight defeat.
In Orlando, Paul George did his damage early and Dennis Schroder came on late to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 126-117 victory over the Magic.
George scored 31 of his 37 points in the first half and Schroder scored 18 of his 21 in the fourth quarter as Oklahoma City handed the Magic a fourth straight defeat.
Thunder star Russell Westbrook notched his fourth consecutive triple-double — and 17th of the season — with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.
George recorded his eighth straight game with 24 points or more.