Gordon leads Davis-less Pelicans past Clippers
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Eric Gordon looked a lot more like the player the Pelicans thought they were getting when he first arrived in a trade that sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011.
Coincidentally or not, Gordon’s best performance this season came against the Clippers at a time when New Orleans needed someone to step up in All-Star Anthony Davis’ absence.
Hitting five 3-pointers, clutch mid-range jumpers and explosive driving layups, Gordon scored a season-high 28 points and New Orleans snapped the Clippers’ six-game winning streak, 108-103 on Friday night.
"I had it going good when I first hit those couple 3s early in the game and then I attacked the rim," Gordon said. "As long as I keep mixing it up like that, it’s going to be hard for a team to predict what I’m going to do."
With Davis sitting out because of his sore left groin, the Pelicans benefited from exceptional shooting from behind the 3-point line, hitting 13 of 25, and at the foul line, where they made 23 of 26 free throws, including their last 17.
Ryan Anderson, starting for Davis, scored 24, including five 3s. Alexis Ajinca, playing more minutes with Davis out, had 17 points and nine rebounds to help New Orleans win for the fifth time in six games.
Tyreke Evans scored 11 points and tied his season high of 12 assists for the third time in four games.
"I knew DeAndre Jordan wanted to block shots tonight so I just wanted to probe, get in the paint, look for Ryan, Eric, Dante (Cuningham) and those guys," Evans said. "They did a good job of spacing and knocking down shots."
Paul scored 24 points for Los Angeles, while Blake Griffin added 19 points. Jordan had 12 points and 15 rebounds.
"We let those guys get comfortable," Paul said of the Pelicans. "We gave them a few dare shots early (from the perimeter), guys starting making shots and gaining confidence."
New Orleans led by as many as 14 and was up 95-82 after Ajinca’s layup as he was fouled by Griffin with 7:38 left.
But with Paul orchestrating the offense in a stadium where he became an All-Star, Los Angeles scored 12 straight points. Paul started the run with a step-back jumper. He added a floater and two 3s, the second making it 95-94.
Gordon ended the surge with his fifth 3. He added a tough 16-foot fade-away over JJ Redick and got another 16-footer to fall, making it 106-100.
Gordon was injured for much of his first two seasons in New Orleans. Then he began deferring more as Davis emerged as the Pelicans’ franchise player. But the veteran guard said he still has the mindset that he can take over if needed.
"I’ve been put in this position many times," Gordon said. "I tried to just make the right plays at the end of the game, so it was good for me to knock down those couple shots."
The Pelicans outrebounded the Clippers 51-38, with 14 coming on the offensive end. Cunningham grabbed 12 rebounds.
"They pushed us around," Griffin said. "They played how they wanted to play. We came out and didn’t play with any energy and didn’t play with any passion. We were just bad all around."
Clippers: Los Angeles fell to 1-1 on its eight-game road trip. … The Clippers were 7 of 28 from 3-point range and 12 of 17 on free throws. … Crawford was 1 of 6 on 3s. The one he made gave him 1,787 for his career, tied for eighth all-time with Rashard Lewis. …The Clippers finished the game with a 54-34 advantage in points inside and led 54-53 at halftime. Redick scored 12 after missing the previous game because of back spasms, but missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
Pelicans: New Orleans improved to 16-6 at home. … New Orleans won for the first time in five years (Jan. 22, 2010) when making at least six fewer field goals than their opponent.
Clippers: Visit San Antonio on Saturday.
Magic: Host Atlanta on Monday.