Gordon leads Pelicans past Grizzlies
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — With a big fourth-quarter lead dwindling quickly, Pelicans coach Monty Williams called a timeout and told his team to run a play that would ensure Eric Gordon got the ball.
As far as Williams was concerned, it wasn’t so much great coaching as common sense, the way Gordon was shooting.
Gordon drained a momentum-shifting 20-foot jumper that capped his 25-point outing, and New Orleans held on for its second straight victory, 104-98 over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
“That’s the Eric that I know can be an All-Star-type player on a night-in and night-out basis just because he’s not afraid to take big shots,” Williams said. “We just put the ball in Eric’s hands and had him make a play. … Eric’s really good at reading defenses, so he comes out and hits a big shot and then we just got stops when we needed.”
Gordon hit 10 of 12 shots, including all three of his 3-point attempts. He also made both of his free throws.
“I’ve shown that I can score at any point during the game,” Gordon said. “With me tonight, I was just hitting everything, basically.”
Jrue Holiday added 20 points and 12 assists, hitting a clutch 3-pointer in the final minute to give New Orleans more breathing room after its 19-point, fourth-quarter lead had been trimmed to six with nearly five minutes remaining.
Holiday also did not turn the ball over, and the Pelicans finished with a season-low six turnovers.
“That’s a good feeling,” Holiday said. “I can go home and go to sleep tonight.”
Ryan Anderson scored 18 for New Orleans, which has won five of seven games, mostly without power forward Anthony Davis, who broke his left hand in the first quarter of the first game in that stretch. However, New Orleans lost guard Tyreke Evans, who aggravated a recent left ankle sprain on a drive in which he was fouled by Tony Allen the last seconds of the first half.
“Just a little tweak,” said Evans, who made two free throws after the injury, then sat out the second half. “Hopefully I’ll be back next game.”
Jon Leuer scored 19 and Mike Conley 18 for Memphis, which has lost two straight. Zach Randolph added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who were done in by a 21-3 Pelicans run that started in the last half of the third quarter.
Memphis coach Dave Joerger said defending the Pelicans can be tough when Anderson, Holiday and Gordon are all playing well.
“Good team on the perimeter,” Joerger said. “There are times where Holiday and Gordon are able to make plays because we were trying to get out to Ryan Anderson so quickly that the gaps become big and those guys take advantage of those gaps.”
The Grizzlies were as close as 63-62 on Kosta Koufos’ 6-foot runner halfway through the third quarter, but Randolph went to the bench with his fourth foul soon after.
New Orleans then started to dominate, going on a 21-3 run that gave the Pelicans their largest lead at 84-65 early in the fourth quarter.
The surge included Gordon’s layup and 27-footer with a second left in the third quarter.
Memphis nearly had an answer, though.
Mike Miller’s free throws began a 15-3 run, which he capped with a 3 to cut it to 94-88 with 4:53 still left.
That’s when Williams called timeout and put the game in Gordon’s hands. After his big shot, Holiday followed with a 9-foot floater, Al-Farouq Aminu sank a pair of clutch free throws and Holiday connected from 3. That put New Orleans ahead 103-93 with 54 seconds left, and Memphis could not recover.
“They just hit shots toward the end of the game,” Randolph said. “With them two guys — Holiday and Eric — in their backcourt, that’s a pretty good backcourt, real good. They showed up tonight and hit big shots.”
NOTES: The Grizzlies are 0-6 against Southwest Division opponents. … New Orleans begins a five-game road trip at Denver on Sunday night. … Memphis, which shot 50 percent (40 of 80), lost for the first time in 18 games when shooting that well. … The Pelicans shot 51.3 percent (39 of 76).