Pelicans snap 4-game skid with easy win against Timberwolves
Mired in a four-game losing streak and sinking further out of contention in the Western Conference, the New Orleans Pelicans were in desperate need of a confidence builder.
The Minnesota Timberwolves seemed happy to make it easy on them.
Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday scored 27 points apiece, and the Pelicans beat the Timberwolves 116-102 on Monday night for just their sixth road victory of the season.
Davis grabbed eight rebounds and Holiday had nine assists and five boards as well. Ryan Anderson chipped in 26 points, and the Pelicans turned 12 turnovers into 21 points while turning the ball over just four times themselves.
“Just to get a road win, and we’ve been struggling on the road, so that was all good for us,” coach Alvin Gentry said.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were looking for their first three-game winning streak since Nov. 27. They shot 44 percent and trailed by as many as 28 in a lackluster effort.
“I’m just going to say it’s one of those clunkers,” interim coach Sam Mitchell said. “You get two, three, four a season. I can’t recall, we haven’t had one in a long time. Just one of those nobody really played well. Nobody played bad, but nobody played well.”
It has been a miserable season for the Pelicans, who were looking to parlay last year’s playoff berth and Gentry’s up-tempo style into a climb up the Western Conference ladder. But they’ve been racked by injuries to key players such as Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Quincy Pondexter and have played some of the worst defense in the NBA.
The Timberwolves had shown signs of pulling themselves out of a long funk with consecutive victories over the Clippers and Bulls that helped them match their victory total for all of last season (16) with 30 games to play. But they provided little resistance to the struggling Pelicans on Monday night.
Towns and Ricky Rubio each picked up two fouls in the first quarter, forcing Mitchell to roll out a shaky second unit for a stretch in the second quarter that included Zach LaVine, Andre Miller, Shabazz Muhammad, Damjan Rudez and Adreian Payne.
The Pelicans pounced on that five-man group, ripping off a 14-0 run in just over three minutes. The Wolves went nearly eight minutes of the period without a field goal and Holiday got going on the other end as the lead swelled to 23 points.
“We’ve been playing so well recently,” Towns said. “We didn’t expect to hit a wall like this.”
New Orleans has been monitoring Holiday’s minutes closely to try to keep him healthy and is bringing him off the bench even with Gordon and Evans out. Gentry has had to appoint an assistant who has the power to overrule him and remove Holiday from the game when they’re pushing too close.
“I had to assign a guy to do that because it would be hard for me to do it,” Gentry said. “It really is, especially when he’s playing at the level that he is and the game is still teetering either way.”
The Pelicans were headed back home, giving the first-year coach Gentry the chance to experience Mardi Gras for the first time as a resident.
“Somebody sent me a picture of a scene right by my house on St. Charles and I was like ‘holy moly,’” Gentry said. “I’ve never lived it. I’ve been at a Mardi Gras but I’ve never actually lived it, so I think I’ll step back and just let it happen this time.”
Pelicans: The game was delayed late in the fourth quarter after Omer Asik had a contact lens knocked out of his eye and had to replace it. ... Davis topped 20 points for the 12th time in the last 13 games. The only time he did not in that stretch was when he had to leave a game early because of a concussion.
Timberwolves: Dieng picked up a technical foul in the third for flopping around on the court after being called for an offensive foul. ... Rookie PG Tyus Jones played for the first time since Jan. 4, a span of 17 games.
Pelicans: Host Utah on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Host Toronto on Wednesday.