SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Even with Anthony Davis on the bench, New Orleans refused to give up.
After trailing most of the way Monday night, the Pelicans pushed the pace and clamped down on defense to spark one final rally that allowed them to finish a four-game road trip with a 115-112 victory over the Utah Jazz.
It marked a 180-degree turn from how the Pelicans often struggled to close out games earlier this season.
“We’ve been in most of our games and down the stretch we didn’t just complete the game,” guard Jrue Holiday said. “As of late we’ve been doing a really good job of executing and getting big wins.”
Holiday and Julius Randle each scored 30 points to lead New Orleans. Davis had 15 points and 11 rebounds in three quarters. The star big man sat out all but the last second of the fourth, yet New Orleans still won its third straight game.
Utah made just three baskets over the final eight minutes and went six minutes without a field goal. That opened the door for the Pelicans to take their first lead behind a 22-2 run.
Randle sparked the surge with back-to-back baskets and made five in all to fuel the spurt. New Orleans polished it off by scoring on six straight possessions, capped by Randle’s layup for a 111-105 lead.
“We just kept fighting,” Randle said. “Cleaned up some stuff that we made mistakes on in the first half. Just kept fighting like we have all year.”
Jae Crowder and Kyle Korver scored 20 points apiece off the bench to lead the Jazz. Rudy Gobert added 19 points and 19 rebounds, and Donovan Mitchell had 19 points and nine assists.
Utah overcame a six-point deficit and took a 112-111 lead on Mitchell’s layup with 43.9 seconds left. Elfrid Payton answered with a reverse putback to put the Pelicans ahead for good.
Mitchell missed a jumper at the other end and Randle made a pair of free throws with 0.9 seconds remaining.
Davis, often benched in the fourth quarter since his trade request, entered to guard the inbounder on the final sequence. He helped disrupt Utah’s last play, sealing the comeback win for New Orleans.
“We were playing with fire,” Mitchell said. “We knew that. We came into the timeout and Kyle said that. When you are playing with fire, you’re going to get burned.”
Utah built a 58-41 advantage in the second quarter before the Pelicans rallied in the third. They scored baskets on seven straight possessions, culminating in a dunk from Randle, to cut the deficit to 78-77. Davis missed a potential go-ahead layup, and Crowder and Korver hit 3s a minute apart to keep the Jazz in front.
New Orleans eventually made a final successful rally in the fourth.
“We really picked up our defense,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “We were able to run Korver off some of the shots he was making. Then we did a good job of staying back and not allowing the lob pass for the dunk.”
Mitchell had a shot at a game-winning basket in the final seconds. He pump-faked and tossed up a jumper that missed with 3.8 seconds left. Jazz coach Quin Snyder acknowledged after the game he should have called a timeout in that situation to draw up a better play for his guard.
“I thought he had an advantage in the full court,” Snyder said. “We like the ball in his hands in space and that’s what we had. As the possession evolved, where he wasn’t able to attack right away, that one’s on me. That could have been a timeout, reset, and get a look.”
Holiday scored 25 points during the first three quarters to help set up Randle’s clutch play in the fourth. He logged his fifth 30-point game of the season and committed just a single turnover. Holiday also kept Mitchell from finding a consistent rhythm, limiting him to 8-of-24 shooting.
“This has been a team that has been able to fight from a deficit all year, but for him to keep us in the game with his offense and make life difficult for Donovan on the other end was big for us,” Randle said.
Pelicans: Frank Jackson had four points and two rebounds in his first NBA game in his home state. Jackson played high school basketball in Utah before attending Duke. ... Holiday and Randle combined to score at least 50 points for the fourth consecutive game. ... The Pelicans outscored the Jazz 62-48 in the paint and had a 16-8 edge in second-chance points.