Pelicans 105, Nuggets 89

Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- Reserve guard Tyreke Evans scored 19 points, point guard Jrue Holiday added 17 points and eight assists and forward Anthony Davis overcame early foul trouble to hit a pair of critical layups in the final three minutes to lift the New Orleans Pelicans to a 105-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets Friday night at the New Orleans Arena.
The Pelicans (13-14) placed six players in double figures. In addition to Evans and Holiday, Davis scored 17, forward Ryan Anderson 16 and forwards Al-Farouq Aminu and Darius Miller 11 each.
The Nuggets (14-14), who lost their fifth consecutive game, were led by forward Wilson Chandler's game-high 22 points.
The Pelicans led 93-87 with 2:53 left, but Davis made back-to-back lay-ups on exceptional feeds from Holiday to ice the game.
With a pair of 3-pointers by Chandler, the Nuggets used a 19-12 run opening the third quarter to close the deficit to 70-64. But the Pelicans responded with an 11-0 run to extend their lead back to 81-64.
Holiday ignited the run, hitting an 18-foot jumper and then stripping point guard Ty Lawson in the backcourt to go coast-to-coast for a layup. Evans fed forward Anthony Davis for an easy layup and then closed out the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
The Nuggets made another surge, closing a 91-74 deficit to 91-82 with 5:52 left with four points each by forward Quincy Miller and Chandler. But Davis blocked a Miller layup on the defensive end and forward Al-Farouq Aminu finished off the fast break with a layup.
The Pelicans bench, led by Evans' 10 first-half points, outscored the Nuggets' reserves 24-2 in leading New Orleans to a 58-45 halftime lead.
Evans hit a floater in the lane to put New Orleans on top 30-25 late in the first quarter, and then he found forward Darius Miller alone on the right baseline for a 3-point field goal that turned into a four-point play when guard Randy Foye tagged Miller on the follow-through.
Miller's four-point play gave New Orleans a 34-25 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Pelicans built their biggest lead of the first half, 51-31, with a 15-5 run in the second quarter, highlighted by another 3-pointer from Miller and a long-range jumper from forward Ryan Anderson.
Davis played only seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, but he had a crowd-pleasing layup on a half-court feed from Evans. The Nuggets got 12 first-half points from Chandler, but they shots just 37.5 percent from the floor. Forward Anthony Randolph (two points) was the only Nuggets' reserve to score in the first half.
NOTES: Pelicans SG Eric Gordon, who was undercut by Sacramento's Isaiah Thomas on a layup attempt in 113-100 road victory over the Kings on Monday night, suffered a right hip contusion and missed Friday night's game against the Nuggets. He is day to day. "It's one of those injuries that looks bad and feels bad," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "There's not much padding on your hips." ... Rather than insert sixth-man Tyreke Evans as Gordon's replacement, Williams gave the start to Anthony Morrow "because it gives us shooting and spacing on the floor that can help Anthony (Davis) and Ryan (Anderson). We thought about Tyreke, but I like the lift he gives us off the bench." ... After four consecutive losses -- and four losses in five home games -- Nuggets coach Brian Shaw inserted SG Jordan Hamilton into the starting lineup, sending Randy Foye, who has been struggling with his shooting, to the bench. "I'll see how it goes," Shaw said. "Hopefully, it doesn't blow up in my face. ... Sometimes, when you're pressing as a team and going through a tough stretch, the pressure of playing at home in front of your home crowd is tough, and some guys looks forward to going on the road." ... Nuggets F Kenneth Faried missed his second consecutive game with a sprained left ankle. ... Shaw has been thoroughly impressed with Pelicans F Anthony Davis. "You thought of him (in college) as just a defensive guy who could block shots and rebound," Shaw said. "His offensive game has come along, and he's really expanded it in terms of being able to knock down jump shots out to 15 to 17 feet."

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