Pelicans pursue sixth straight win vs. Suns

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Pelicans lit a post-DeMarcus Cousins fuse before the All-Star break, and now that their winning streak has stretched to a season-long five games — their best streak since March 2015 — they hope to keep things rolling Monday night against the bottom-dwelling Phoenix Suns.

The Pelicans (33-26) got their fifth straight victory Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee with a 123-121 overtime win over the Bucks. It was also their sixth consecutive overtime win.

“We seem to find a way to get into these games,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said, smiling.

The Pelicans trailed the Bucks by 17 points at halftime and by 18 early in the third quarter before turning the game around with a 38-19 quarter in which they made 15 of 25 shots from the field and held Milwaukee to 8-of-21 shooting.

It marked the fifth time this season the Pelicans have rallied from at least 18 points down to win. They came back from 19 down to Sacramento, Oklahoma City and New York and from 18 points down against Chicago.

“I don’t think we want to keep getting down 18,” Gentry said. “The one thing that’s really positive is that we never really gave up and just kept plugging away.”

After losing five of their first six games following the Jan. 26 season-ending Achilles injury to Cousins, the Pelicans appear to have righted the ship with superhuman efforts of Anthony Davis and breakout offensive performances of guard Jrue Holiday.

In the last five games, Davis has 196 points (39.2 average) and 72 rebounds (14.4) with 17 steals (3.4) and 14 blocks (2.8). He had 27 points and 12 boards in 43 minutes against the Bucks.

Holiday, one of the league’s best two-way guards, has picked up his offensive game in February. He torched the Bucks for 36 points — one shy of his season high — while making 16 of 31 shots. The 31 field goal attempts were his game high this year, a sign he is becoming more aggressive and using his strong post-up game to dominate smaller guards.

“We were just going to the basket,” said Holiday, who scored 28 of his 36 points in the second half. “I’m tired of these overtimes, but I think when our backs are against the wall, we’ve handled adversity really well.”

The Suns (18-43) played valiantly but lost 106-104 on Saturday to Portland. The Trail Blazers outscored the Suns 35-23 in the fourth quarter, and guard Damian Lillard drove past newly acquired Elfrid Payton in the closing seconds for the winning layup.

The Suns had as much as a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter. Lillard’s layup came after a Suns turnover on an inbounds pass.

“We came out and we played early on,” said guard Devin Booker, who scored 30 points in a losing effort. “That was the biggest thing for us, but still, no moral victories. We have to win. You learn winning by winning. There’s no way around that.”

The Pelicans defeated the Suns 115-91 on Nov. 24 in Phoenix. New Orleans led by as many as 35 points in the third quarter and held Phoenix to .394 (37-of-94) shooting from the field, including 2 of 20 (.100) from 3-point range.

Davis led the Pelicans with a game-high 23 points to go with nine rebounds, and Holiday added 18 points. T.J. Warren scored a team-high 18 points for Phoenix in the loss. Booker was held to 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting, including 0 of 5 from 3-point range.

The Pelicans are one victory shy of their 34-win total in the 2016-17 season.