NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Down 22 points in the third quarter to the surging Brooklyn Nets, the New Orleans Pelicans appeared headed to a lopsided defeat. That’s when Tyreke Evans turned the game around.
Evans scored 22 of his season-high 33 points in the second half and the short-handed Pelicans rallied to win 109-104 in overtime Monday night.
Driving to the basket repeatedly, Evans scored 14 as New Orleans closed the third period on a 29-10 run to get back in the game. Anthony Morrow, who did not score until the final 2 minutes of regulation, had 11 points the rest of the way as the Pelicans completed their largest comeback of the season and the second-biggest in franchise history.
"I was just being aggressive," Evans said. "That’s what kept me going, especially before their defense set up. I was just playing my game. We could have easily given up tonight, but coach (Monty Williams) got on us in the locker room."
Morrow hit a 3-pointer to give New Orleans a 106-100 lead in overtime and all but sealed the victory with another 3 that made it 109-102 with 54.5 seconds left.
Anthony Davis added 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Pelicans, who matched their season best with a three-game winning streak despite playing without Eric Gordon (left knee tendinitis) for the second consecutive game.
Paul Pierce had 24 points and Deron Williams 23 for the Nets, who lost for the first time in five games after winning at Dallas in overtime Sunday. Brooklyn fell behind 98-93 with 1:14 left in regulation but scored the next five points to force overtime.
"We had an opportunity to win the game," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "It went into overtime, and we just couldn’t get it back."
This one appeared over when the Nets went up 66-44 early in the third quarter, but Brian Roberts started the rally with a 3-pointer and Evans scored New Orleans’ next eight points to help the Pelicans close the deficit to 67-59.
Williams and Joe Johnson hit consecutive 3s as the Nets went back up 74-61, but the Pelicans closed with a 12-2 spurt that started when Pierce was given a technical foul for confronting Alexis Ajinca after Ajinca was called for an offensive foul with a high elbow.
Evans converted a four-point play with 1.1 seconds left, hitting a long shot while being fouled to cut the deficit to 76-73 entering the fourth. It was only his 17th 3 in 77 attempts.
"It was just confidence," he said. "I had it going at the time, and it was a rhythm shot. I didn’t think about it, and it went in. It got the crowd going, and we fed off that."
After falling behind again by nine in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans held Brooklyn without a point for more than 4 minutes as they rallied to take their first lead since early in the first quarter, 91-89, on Evans’ driving layup.
"He got to the basket at will," Davis said. "He made some big shots for us. He was huge."
Then it was Brooklyn’s turn to come back. With the Nets trailing 98-93, Mason Plumlee dunked after the Nets grabbed two offensive rebounds, and Pierce drained a contested 3-pointer with 24.1 seconds left to tie the score at 98.
Morrow, who took all 11 of his shots after the third quarter, missed a contested 3 at the regulation buzzer. But he didn’t miss in overtime.
"We just stuck together," he said. "When we came into halftime, I just said we have to stop complaining and getting mad at ourselves and each other on little stuff. We all want to win. Nobody on this team is selfish. Take a deep breath and play through the lows."
Morrow’s big shots in the fourth quarter came right before Williams planned to take him out for Luke Babbitt.
"I couldn’t get Luke there in time," Williams said. "He comes right back and hits a shot, runs over to me and says, `I ain’t going to miss no more! I ain’t going to miss no more!’"
The Nets, who led the Pelicans 51-28 at halftime of their first meeting in February, raced to a 58-42 advantage at the break this time.
The shots stopped falling in the second half, when Brooklyn camped out behind the 3-point line. The Nets went 10 of 40 on 3-pointers overall, 4 of 23 after halftime. Meanwhile, the Pelicans kept attacking the basket, hitting 12 of 19 shots in the third quarter.
"I don’t have the stats, but I know they got a lot of layups," said Nets guard Shaun Livingston, who had all but two of his 10 points in the first half. "We have to make them take tougher shots. That’s on all of us."
NOTES: The Pelicans are 5-0 in overtime. … Andrei Kirilenko did not play for the Nets after spraining his left ankle against Dallas on Sunday. He already had missed 26 games with back spasms, three with a calf strain and two with a sprained right ankle. … Pierce is in his 16th NBA season, matching the combined years in the league for the Pelicans’ five starters. … Marcus Thornton, who scored 20 points against Dallas on Sunday, left with a bruised back late in the first half and did not play in the second half, finishing with three points.