'Collective effort' propels Davis-less Pelicans past Timberwolves

‘Collective effort’ propels Davis-less Pelicans past Timberwolves

01/01/2019 at 14:06Updated 01/01/2019 at 14:17

With star forward Anthony Davis out due to illness, New Orleans wraps 2018 with win to go two out of three in latest home stand …

The Pelicans rallied late in the game to down the Minnesota Timberwolves 123-114 despite surrendering a 15-point lead in the third quarter.

The win pulls the New Orleans (17-21) to within a half game of Minnesota (17-20), who is placed one spot above last year’s post season semifinalist New Orleans, which currently sits in 14th place in the NBA’s Western Conference eight games ahead of last place Phoenix (9-29).

“It was a collective effort, but I thought obviously Darius (Miller) did a great job,” said Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, referring to Miller’s 21 points. “He was healthy and playing at a real high level, and he was still a little bit under the weather, but I thought he shot the ball exceptionally well. I thought he was really aggressive in what he was doing, but if we are putting a recap on the game, I would have to say it was a really good total team effort.”

With Okafor temporarily on the bench after collecting three fouls inside the first four minutes, the team turned to forward Julius Randle, who nabbed eight points and six boards in the first quarter en route to a 33-point, 11-rebound outing.

“We found out during warmups,” said Randle about learning of Davis not starting. “My mentality never changes; I continue to be aggressive and play hard … My mindset has not changed at all. AD (Anthony Davis) is our leader and we rely on him a lot, but us as players, we have to come prepared for all situations.”

Like Gentry, Randle praised his teammates collective efforts for the win, including Jrue Holiday’s 26-point performance, as well as that of E’Twau Moore with 17.

“A lot of people played really well and stepped up big,” he said. “Every time they made a run and made a big shot, Jrue (Holiday) hit a big shot. E’Twaun (Moore) did too. We are starting to find all our guys.”

Despite Davis not in the lineup, New Orleans was bolstered by the return of Elfrid Payton, who helped the Pelicans drive the tempo with 22 fast break points the first half.

“It is amazing. He pushes the pace, gets to the ball on defense,” explained Randle. “He just plays with aggressiveness, which is really good.”

The Timberwolves were led by top scorers Karl-Anthony Towns (center) with 28 and guard Andrew Wiggins with 20.