Tyreke Evans leads Pelicans past Nuggets, 105-89

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 defense and rotating properly, we’re

pretty tough,” Williams said. ”Our defense 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 percent to 40.2 percent.

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

center 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 behavior 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 percent 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.