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Pelicans hand Nuggets their fifth straight loss

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The Canadian Press
12/27/2013 11:57:41 PM
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NEW ORLEANS -- Tyreke Evans looks so comfortable coming off the bench that Pelicans coach Monty Williams chose not to start him when Eric Gordon was unable to play because of his injured right hip.

Williams got the result he wanted.

Evans had 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, and New Orleans handed the Denver Nuggets their fifth straight loss, 105-89 on Friday night.

It was the second straight double-double for Evans, who led the Pelicans to a victory Monday night in Sacramento with 25 points and 12 rebounds. He appreciates the significance of providing scoring off the bench.

"It's important," Evans said. "When we come in like that and play together, find each other, move the ball ... I think that's when we're at our best."

Jrue Holiday had 17 points and four steals, causing two turnovers that led to late fast-break points as the Pelicans slammed the door on Denver's comeback bid.

"I just love the way he defends and the way he competes," Williams said. "It's contagious."

Anthony Davis added 17 points and four blocked shots despite playing sparingly in the first half because of three early fouls.

Wilson Chandler scored 22 points and J.J. Hickson added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who trailed by 18 in the second quarter but were as close as 93-87 on Quincy Miller's 3-pointer with 2:55 to go.

That's when Holiday found Davis for an alley-oop tip and again for a fast-break basket. Holiday followed that up with a short floater and a steal to set up Evans' fast-break layup, and New Orleans easily held on from there for its second consecutive victory.

A few minutes earlier, Davis briefly prevented Denver from pulling within seven points when he blocked three shots on one possession, the first two by Chandler and a third layup attempt by Andre Miller.

"When he's talking on defence and rotating properly, we're pretty tough," Williams said. "Our defence is pretty sound."

New Orleans blocked eight shots in all and outrebounded Denver 53-42. The Pelicans outscored the Nuggets 48-36 in the paint and outshot them 47.2 per cent to 40.2 per cent.

Denver was without starter Kenneth Faried for a second straight game because of his left ankle sprain. That led to a lineup shuffle in which Timofey Mozgov made his second start of the season at centre and Jordan Hamilton started his eighth game at guard in place of a healthy Randy Foye.

"We talked about just trying to stay together and pulling for each other," Denver coach Brian Shaw said. "This is our team and we have to play with the guys that we have, regardless of who's out, regardless of the fact that it is a tough stretch for us, losing five in a row.

"The same way we were feeling about each other when we won seven games in a row, we have to find and generate the kind of energy and effort that we need to correct what we're doing right now that's allowing us to lose all these games in a row," he added. "We talk about changing behaviour in order to change results. We have to do that, and that means even if you're not in there, pulling for the guy that's in there in front of you."

Ty Lawson had 14 points and 12 assists for Denver. Hamilton added 12 points.

Despite a lethargic first half, Denver cut New Orleans' lead to 70-64 in the third quarter after an 8-2 spurt that started with Hamilton's 3 and ended with Chandler's 3. Williams called timeout, and New Orleans responded.

Al-Farouq Aminu's steal led to Holiday's 15-foot jumper, then Holiday stole the ball from Lawson and hit a breakaway layup. That sparked an 11-0 run that included Davis' alley-oop layup off Evans' lob, Aminu's jumper and Evans' 3.

The Pelicans never trailed, thanks to sharp early shooting. New Orleans shot 52 per cent in the first quarter, building a 34-29 lead when Darius Miller hit a 3 as he was fouled and sank the free throw for a four-point play.

The second quarter wasn't quite as crisp for New Orleans, and Davis spent much of the period on the bench with three fouls -- but Denver only fell further behind. Ryan Anderson's third 3 of the half put the Pelicans ahead 49-31.

Lawson had 10 first-half points for Denver, and his four straight to close out the second quarter pulled the Nuggets to 58-45 at halftime.

NOTES: New Orleans (13-14) earned its first victory against an opponent that entered with a winning record. ... Anthony Morrow wound up starting for Gordon, who averages 15.4 points. Morrow had eight points. ... Mozgov finished with eight points and nine rebounds. ... Jason Smith missed his third straight game with a bruised right knee. Anderson started for him. ... The Pelicans play five of their next six games on the road, where they are 5-9 this season. ... The Nuggets finish a two-game road swing in Memphis on Saturday night.

Anthony Davis (Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
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