Pelicans (8-6), Hawks (2-12)
After trailing by as many as 14 points Monday, New Orleans roared back to take the lead and eventually hung on to defeat upset-minded Atlanta in a game that wasn’t decided until the final second of regulation. In the best performance of his NBA career, reserve forward Darius Miller drained four fourth-quarter three pointers and accounted for half of his team’s 28 points in that period. Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins threatened a triple-double with 22 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.
Miller sank the go-ahead basket with 37 seconds to go, hitting a corner three-pointer to make it 106-105. He previously cut Atlanta’s edge to 101-100 by nailing a trey at 2:19. Trailing by a point, Atlanta committed a turnover with just 3 ticks remaining, losing the ball out of bounds after mishandling it.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore couldn’t get enough on a desperation three-point attempt at the buzzer – it may have been partially deflected by defender Jrue Holiday – and the horn sounded, giving New Orleans a narrow victory. Holiday previously made a huge hoop by connecting on a three-pointer that made it Atlanta 104-103 with 1:34 remaining.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Miller laughed when he was asked whether Monday’s game was the most memorable moment of his NBA career, in his typically understated fashion replying, “I guess?” Either way, it was a spectacular night for the University of Kentucky product, who was out of the NBA for two-plus years after his initial stint with New Orleans was largely unsuccessful. Miller started this season sluggishly from the three-point arc, but has been heating up in recent weeks and turned in his biggest three-point exhibition against the Hawks. Miller finished with a career-best 21 points, surpassing his previous high in the league by drilling what proved to be the game-winning basket. Pelicans guard E’Twaun Moore also authored a career night of sorts, equaling his highest point total in the NBA with 24, on 11/18 shooting.
QUOTES TO NOTE
“I got into a rhythm tonight, a lot of open shots. It was just a good night.” – Miller summarizing his game
“(I’ve been waiting) for a while (for a night like this). I feel like I’m finally getting into a shooting rhythm. These guys get everybody a lot of open looks, so I’ve just got to continue to knock them down.” – Miller on his breakout game and Cousins and Anthony Davis creating quality attempts for shooters
“We knew they were going to keep fighting. We found a way to win. That’s all that matters.” – Moore on Pelicans postgame radio, discussing fending off the Hawks
“The fact that we’re playing bad and we’re still winning is a good sign, but we just know if we limit our turnovers, we can be a much better team. Take care of the ball and these close games could easily be 15- or 20-point wins. But it’s hard to get wins in this league. We’ll take them how they come, no matter what.” – Davis on New Orleans posting another win despite too many turnovers
BY THE NUMBERS
19: Pelicans turnovers, including a combined dozen by Cousins and Davis. Atlanta swarmed the pair of All-Star bigs, forcing them to try to pass out of thickets of defenders all game. The strategy mostly paid off for the first three periods, but Miller made the Hawks pay with his late-game accuracy.
17/36: Hawks three-point shooting, paced by four treys apiece by Luke Babbitt, Marco Belinelli and Tyler Cavanaugh.
2: New Orleans slams. At home games this season, Zatarain’s will donate meals to the Second Harvest Food Bank for every Pelicans dunk. Davis threw down both of them, including snaring a frozen-rope pass from Cousins for a highlight-reel alley oop in the third quarter.