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Pelicans 101, Thunder 89

The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS - Tyreke Evans, pressed into emergency point guard duty, scored a career-high 41 points and dished out eight assists to power the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans to a 101-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night at the Smoothie King Center.

Evans' status before the game was uncertain because of a bone bruise in his knee, but he exploded for 32 of his 41 points in the second half as the Pelicans (33-48) broke Oklahoma City's 10-game winning streak over New Orleans.

The Thunder (58-23) could have wrapped up the second seed in the West with a victory. Instead, they will clinch the second seed if the Los Angeles Clippers lose to Denver on Tuesday night or if the Thunder defeat Detroit in the regular-season finale on Wednesday.

Oklahoma City got 25 points from forward Kevin Durant and 22 from forward Serge Ibaka.

Evans kept the Pelicans in touch with 15 third-quarter points, most coming on strong drives into the lane, and New Orleans led 70-69 after three quarters. Evans made 5 of 6 shots in the quarter.

Durant hit a 10-foot floater in the lane to tie the game at 77, but the Pelicans responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by forward Darius Miller and guard Anthony Morrow to lead 83-79 with 6:26 left.

The injury-ravaged Pelicans already were short-handed, dressing just 10 players, when New Orleans point guard Austin Rivers and Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison exchanged hard chest bumps with 7:56 left in the second quarter. Rivers and Collison had to be separated, and both were charged initially with technicals.

After reviewing the videotape of the back-to-back possessions on which Rivers and Collison tangled, lead official Ken Mauer ejected both players, leaving the Pelicans with just one point guard, Evans. Evans led the Pelicans with nine points and four assists in the half, and center Alexis Ajinca had eight points as Oklahoma City took a 46-45 lead at the half.

Forward Caron Butler scored 10 of his 14 first-half points in the second quarter, Ibaka added 11 points and seven rebounds, and Durant had nine points and four assists. But the Thunder committed nine first-half turnovers.

NOTES: Coming off a 102-97 road loss to Indiana on Sunday, Thunder coach Scott Brooks rested G Russell Westbrook. Reggie Jackson started in his place. ... Brooks said he would consider F Kevin Durant, who averages a league-high 32.0 points per game, his candidate for MVP. "I follow the league," Brooks said. "I understand who's playing well. (Durant's) played like an MVP for many years, and he's going to play like that for many more years. It would be a great honor, not only for himself but for the team. Our goal is to be one of the elite teams and give ourselves a chance to win a championship, and he's put us in that position by the way he's played consistent basketball." ... The Pelicans waived C Greg Stiemsma, who was signed to a one-year contract, with two games left in the season, and picked up journeyman Melvin Ely.

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