NEW ORLEANS – Anthony Davis did exactly what New Orleans has come to expect and Pelicans newcomer Elfrid Payton showed his hometown more of what he has to offer when clutch play is in demand.
Davis highlighted a 34-point, 13-rebound, five-block performance with a left-wing 3 with less than two minutes remaining, Payton added a back-breaking 3 in the final minute of his first 20-point performance for the Pelicans, and New Orleans remained unbeaten through three games with a 116-109 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
“This was our best win,” of the three to start the season, Payton said. “We fought adversity and found a way to win. It felt good just to close out the game.”
After routing its first two opponents, New Orleans won for the first time when Nikola Mirotic struggled from 3-point range. He was 0-for-6 from deep, but still managed to score 18 points and grab 12 rebounds. Julius Randle added 18 points before fouling out with 2:17 to go.
“It was the first time we had to be in a dogfight in the fourth quarter,” Davis said. “The guys handled it well.
“We know that it’s not going to fall as much as we like every night,” Davis added, referring to New Orleans making just six of 24 3-point shots. “But during the game where you have to go and rely on defense, we were able to do that.”
Indeed, the Pelicans came up with 12 steals – four by Solomon Hill – and the Clippers finished with 17 turnovers. New Orleans also blocked nine shots, with Hill swatting away two.
Tobias Harris scored 26 points and Danilo Gallinari 24 for the Clippers, who were playing their first road game of the season after winning their previous two at home. Lou Williams added 17 points for Los Angeles, which narrowly outshot New Orleans but was done in by 17 turnovers.
“We were rushing,” Clippers center Marcin Gortat said. “We were trying to come up with our own stuff. We didn’t really follow the scheme we are supposed to do and that’s what happened. That’s how you turn the ball over and that’s how you lose the game.”
Clippers: Shot 47.1 percent (41 of 87) but missed 15 of 20 3-point attempts. … Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell each scored 12 points. … Los Angeles reserves combined for 45 points. … Los Angeles made 22 of 27 free throws.
Pelicans: New Orleans scored 27 points in the first quarter and 25 in the fourth, marking the first two times that they failed to score at least 30 in a quarter in their first three games. They scored 32 points in second and third quarters. … Holiday had eight points and nine rebounds. … The Pelicans committed eight turnovers. … New Orleans scored 30 points on the free-throw line but also missed 10 foul shots, with Davis going 10-of-15.
New Orleans shot just 39.6 percent (19 of 48) in the first half, after which the Clippers led 62-59.
But the Pelicans seized control with a 21-4, third-quarter run that began with E’Twaun Moore’s 3, which tied the game at 66. Moore, who had 14 points, added another 3 and Davis also hit from deep during the decisive surge. Mirotic, Payton and Jrue Holiday also chipped in with points during the run that gave the Pelicans a 13-point lead.
The Clippers never trimmed their deficit below five points after that.
“In the third quarter, we came out flat,” Rivers said. “Give them credit. They played with a lot of force and pace. I thought overall, defensively, we were pretty good. There was one quarter that I thought really hurt us – the third.”
LETTING IT FLY
Payton had not even attempted a 3 before he sank his only attempt from deep to make it a 113-104 game with 52 seconds left.
“He shot with confidence,” Davis said. “He’s practicing every day, coming in early and working on his 3-ball, staying after practice, so why not shoot it. And it was a big one for us.”
Clippers: Visit Houston on Friday.
Pelicans: Host Brooklyn on Friday.
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