Pelicans rally past Raptors, win on layup with 1.6 seconds left
The short-handed New Orleans Pelicans took the Toronto Raptors’ best punch — and delivered a decisive blow of their own.
Tyreke Evans scored on a driving layup with 1.6 seconds left and the Pelicans beat the Raptors 95-93 on Sunday, their first victory in seven meetings with Toronto.
Evans scored 26 points and Alexis Ajinca had 22 to help the Pelicans win without injured starters Anthony Davis (left foot) and Jrue Holiday (right ankle). Davis and Holiday sat out for the second straight game.
"Doing that without Jrue and AD was big for us," Pelicans coach Monty Williams after his team rebounded from a loss at lowly Philadelphia on Friday night.
Just as big for New Orleans was bouncing back after watching a 14-point halftime lead turn into a 12-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter The Raptors outscored the Pelicans 35-14 in the third.
"We say you’ve got to take a gut punch," Williams said. "Most people don’t know how to take a gut punch. We took it tonight in the third quarter. They came out and just blew us off the floor. On the road, after the loss we had the other day in Philly, you would have thought we would have folded and we did not."
Eric Gordon added 14 points for New Orleans, and Omer Asik had 11.
"We came together as a team today and everybody played well," Evans said.
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 22 points, and Amir Johnson had 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Raptors have lost seven of their last nine games.
"We’re playing in mud right now," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.
Lou Williams added 17 points, Greivis Vasquez had 16 and Patrick Patterson 10 for Toronto.
New Orleans trailed 85-73 with 6:39 left, but a three-point play by Gordon and a pair of free throws by Ajinca capped a 9-0 run that brought the Pelicans to 87-85 with 3:13 remaining.
Patterson stopped the run with a pair of free throws, but Evans made a layup and Ajinca followed with a hook shot, tying it at 91 at 2:28. Asik’s dunk on the next possession gave New Orleans the lead, but DeRozan followed with a tying jumper.
Gordon put the Pelicans back on top with a driving layup but DeRozan tied it again with a pair of free throws with 42 seconds left.
After Gordon missed a jumper and the rebound was knocked out of bounds, the referees reviewed the play to see who had touched it last before giving New Orleans the ball. Evans made the most of the possession, driving to his right before cutting in on the baseline to score the winning basket.
"Tyreke was a man down the stretch," Williams said.
Williams had drawn up several options for the decisive play, but there was one he wanted most.
"I basically told Tyreke to go make the play," Williams said.
DeRozan got a final shot off for Toronto but his jumper missed wide as the buzzer sounded.
"We had the feeling that we were going to pull it out but we made a couple of mental mistakes," DeRozan said.
Ajinca scored six points in the first as New Orleans led 21-14 after one. The Raptors connected on just five of 19 field goal attempts in the first, including one of eight from 3-point range. The 14 points were Toronto’s fewest in any first quarter this season.
Toronto set season lows with 14 points in the first quarter and 36 in the first half. The Raptors scored 38 in the first half of Friday’s loss to Atlanta.
New Orleans had more turnovers in the third quarter (nine) than it did in the first half (six). The Pelicans finished with 18.
Pelicans: Williams said Davis could return Monday night at New York against the Knicks, but said he won’t rush the former first overall pick back into the lineup because of how hard Davis plays. … New Orleans had not won in Toronto since Dec. 14, 2008.
Raptors: Toronto, which lost to the Hawks on Friday night, suffered consecutive home losses for the first time since defeats to Phoenix and Oklahoma City last March 16 and 21. … Vasquez replaced Terrence Ross to start the second half and Ross did not return after going scoreless in 10 first half minutes. … The Raptors lost for the first time this season when allowing fewer than 100 points. They’re 15-1 in such games.