The New Orleans Pelicans played with a lot of determination and resilience; hitting clutch shots, playing turnover-free basketball and getting critical stops on defense to come all the way back from 17 points down last night — to defeat the Sacramento Kings 115-112 at the Smoothie King Center.
With the win, New Orleans (24-38) kept their very slim NBA playoff hopes alive, improving to 3-0 against the Sacramento Kings this season.
The Pelicans also sit one game in 11th place behind the 10th place Kings, and sit six games from the eight spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Pelicans carried over their third quarter rally into in the fourth quarter, scoring six consecutive points that included Holiday splitting the defense for a layup to tie the game at 89 apiece.
Mar 7, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) steals the ball from Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison (7) during the finals seconds of the fourth quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Kings 115-112. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
However, just when the Pelicans got comfortable, the Kings came out of the timeout scoring eight points that included two three pointers from Marco Belinelli to put Sacramento up, 97-89.
After a clutch three pointer from Rondo and three points from Anderson, the Kings led by 10, 102-92.
Trailing 108-100, Anderson converted on a basket, followed by Davis finishing in the paint to put the Pelicans down by four. With 2:59 to play and the fans in the Smoothie King Center on fire, Dante Cunningham hit a clutch two pointer to bring the Pelicans within two.
With the momentum in the favor of the Pelicans, Cousins drew a foul and converted two free throws to silence the crowd for the moment.
The Pelicans, however, stood tall and never gave up.
Davis responded with a dunk and Cunningham nailed a huge three pointer in the corner to give the Pelicans a 111-110 lead with 26 seconds left in regulation. The Kings (25-37) failed to score on the next possession and Holiday responded with another big play, knocking down a 19-foot jumper to put the Pelicans up by three, 113-110.
Following a timeout, Rudy Gay drove past Davis for a layup to bring the Kings within one. The Kings then played the foul game. Cole nailed two critical free throws before Holiday stole the ball from Kings guard Darren Collison to seal the come-from-behind victory.
Mar 7, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) steals the ball from Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison (7) during the final seconds of the fourth quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Kings 115-112. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans, who committed 14 turnovers in the first half, committed only three in the second half to make the successful comeback. The Pelicans finished the game at 48 percent off 45-of-94 shooting from the floor.
Free throws served as a major concern for New Orleans going down the stretch of many games this season. The Pelicans, however, converted their free throws when they mattered the most, shooting 69 percent (18-of-26) from the floor. New Orleans converted 28 percent (7-of-25) from three-point range.
The Pelicans also recorded more steals (17-12) and more points in the paint (56-48) during the second half to help them earn a hard fought victory.
Four Pelicans finished in double figures with Anthony Davis leading all scorers with 31 points off 13-of-21 shooting from the floor and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Norris Cole, who led the team in scoring at the end of the first half, finished the game with 23 points followed by Jrue Holiday with 20 points. Ryan Anderson recorded 19 of the 34 bench points for the Pelicans in the contest
Sacramento finished game shooting 49 percent (41-of-83) from the floor and 85 percent (23-of-27) from the charity stripe. The Kings finished the game with 22 turnovers after committing less than the Pelicans at the end of the first half.
Mar 5, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Cousins, who entered the game averaging 27 points and 11 rebounds per game, had a huge night with 40 points and 16 rebounds. Four other Kings also finished in double figures. Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay finished with 18 points respectively while Omri Casspi and Belinelli combined for 27 points off the bench for Sacramento.
Cole put the Pelicans on the scoreboard first, hitting a long jumper. Cousins then added the first bucket for the Kings. After the teams traded baskets over the next four possessions, the Kings scored four points in transition as the Pelicans failed to get back down the court.
The Kings led by as many as eight points but a basket from Cole and three pointers from Anderson and Toney Douglas cut the Kings lead to 27-23.
In the last three minutes of the quarter, the teams went back and forth in scoring before Alonzo Gee scored in the paint at the buzzer and converted the three-point play, giving the Pelicans a 33-31 lead at the end of the first.
The Pelicans started the second quarter on a quick 6-0 run, with the last bucket of the run coming off a Kings’ turnover allowing Holiday to finish on a fast-break layup.
With a 39-31 lead, the Kings responded scoring nine straight points to take a 40-39 lead. Following back-to-back baskets by New Orleans, the Kings scored eight straight points to take a 49-44 lead with 5:30 left in the half.
From here, things were sloppy for the Pelicans. New Orleans committed careless turnovers and failed to get back in transition throughout the remainder of the half.
The Kings scored quick, easy baskets in transition and in the paint. In the last 5:30, the Sacramento outscored New Orleans, 14-6, to take a 63-50 lead at the half.
With 2:12 to play, the Pelicans went on a 6-0 run, converting on necessary offensive possessions to cut the Kings lead to 89-83 to begin the fourth quarter.
New Orleans will go on the road for Wednesday’s matchup as the Pelicans take on the Charlotte Hornets. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m……