CHICAGO -- This should count as a character builder for a relatively young New Orleans Pelicans squad.
Playing the second leg of back-to-back games, without injured forward Anthony Davis, the Pelicans pulled out a 131-128 victory in triple overtime against the Chicago Bulls on Monday at the United Center.
"We have been telling the guys to just dig deep," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "We have been coaching and telling our guys about conditioning since we got together in August. I like to think this is the kind of thing we can build on. I believe in character and this team has it."
Guard Jrue Holiday's driving layup and three-point play with 2.6 seconds left in the third overtime provided the margin of victory.
The Bulls had tied the score on a baseline hook shot by center Joakim Noah with 4.5 seconds to go. New Orleans spread the court, Holiday came off a high screen and found a wide-open path to the basket. He was fouled by forward Taj Gibson as he hit the lay-in.
"To tell you the truth, I just wanted the game over," Holiday said. "It was the third overtime and I felt like the calls had not gone our way. I was surprised how open I was. Coach called a good play. I don't think I've ever been that wide open with four seconds left."
Chicago forward Mike Dunleavy missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Forward Ryan Anderson topped New Orleans with 36 points. Guard Eric Gordon scored 23, and Holiday added 19.
Forward Luol Deng led Chicago with 37 points. Gibson added a career-high 26 points and 14 rebounds, while Dunleavy finished with a season-high 23 points. The Bulls (7-9) lost for the first time at home this season, and they are now 1-4 since losing guard Derrick Rose to a season-ending knee injury.
Davis did not play after breaking his left hand in Sunday's win over the Knicks in New York. New Orleans (9-8) won its third straight, all on the road.
Chicago rallied from five points down in the second overtime, tying the score on a Dunleavy 3-pointer with 56.9 seconds left. Anderson answered with a tough 19-footer with Noah in his face. After a steal by Gordon, Holiday slammed home the rebound of a fast-break miss to put New Orleans ahead 122-118 with 27.1 seconds remaining.
After Deng hit two free throws and Anderson was called for an offensive foul, Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich missed an open look at a go-ahead 3-pointer. A replay review gave possession back to the Bulls with 6.2 seconds left, and Deng hit a left-handed bank off the inbound pass to tie the score with 4.7 seconds to go. Pelicans forward Al-Farouq Aminu was way off on a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Bulls took a 109-106 lead with 2:06 left in the first overtime on Deng's left-handed drive. With three chances to add to the lead, Deng threw a bad pass and missed two shots. New Orleans pushed the ball upcourt, and Gordon found room to drain a tying 3-pointer with 10.2 seconds to play. The Pelicans wisely fouled with 2.5 seconds left, and the Bulls couldn't get a shot off after getting the ball on the side.
"I'm emotionally drained," Gibson said. "But there are a lot of games left. It's just frustrating, especially to come up short after putting so much into the game."
The lead changed hands six times in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter. Deng found Noah for a dunk with 33.1 seconds left. After the Bulls got mixed up on a defensive switch, Holiday missed an open 15-footer and Dunleavy hit one of two at the line to keep it a two-point game.
Given a second chance, Holiday didn't miss. A pick switched him onto Noah, and Holiday stepped back to sink an 18-footer with 3.9 seconds remaining. The Bulls didn't get a shot off on their final possession.
"We played plenty hard enough," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It was a tough one to lose. We are showing a lot of fight with little to show for it. We have to keep grinding."
NOTES: New Orleans coach Monty Williams did not offer any timetable on F Anthony Davis' return from a broken left hand. Davis suffered the injury on Sunday against the New York Knicks, and as a result, missed playing in his hometown of Chicago for the second straight year. He sat out last year's game as a rookie due to a concussion. ... Williams and Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau joined Mike Krzyzewski's staff with the U.S. National team last summer and worked together for a week at Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. "I learned a lot just being with him every day for a week," Williams said. ... Bulls rookie Tony Snell started his third straight game at shooting guard. There is no word on when G Jimmy Butler might return from a turf toe injury.