NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kenneth Faried says the Denver Nuggets have had "fire in their eyes" since interim coach Melvin Hunt took over.
Denver certainly didn't quit while down double digits in the second half and ultimately wore down a New Orleans squad that is still very much alive for postseason play.
Will Barton scored 25 points, including the tying 3-pointer late in the first overtime, and the Nuggets won their fourth straight, 118-111 over the Pelicans in double overtime Sunday night.
"People think a lot of things about us, but we've got a great coach at the helm in Melvin Hunt who just kept believing in us," said Faried, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds while trying to defend Anthony Davis. "We just keep finding ways to win and we've got great players who are going to step up."
Davis finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds, nine blocks and a career-high seven assists. No one in the NBA has had a game with totals that high in all four of those categories in at least 30 seasons, according to research by the Pelicans' staff, but it wasn't enough to prevent New Orleans from dropping a game behind Oklahoma City for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.
"It's a tough loss, especially in the position we're in," Davis said. "We have to move on and get ready for our next game."
Davis scored six of his points in the first overtime, but missed his only two shots of the final extra session — both jumpers — and was unable to get past Faried for opportunities inside.
"A.D. was shooting a lot, making shots, but I stayed the course and I was able to finally get his legs to give out," said Faried, who had five fouls late in regulation but survived both overtimes. "We play at altitude, so we've kind of got the advantage to keep going."
Danilo Gallinari added 17 points, including a 3 that gave the Nuggets a 114-109 lead with 1:30 left in the second overtime.
Ty Lawson added 19 points and Jameer Nelson 18 for Denver, which won even as coach Melvin Hunt chose to rest three regulars — Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye and Darrell Arthur — so the team could get a better look at some younger players.
"These guys are reaching inside of themselves and they're pulling things out of themselves that they didn't even know they had," said Hunt, whose team trailed by 10 after a 15-2 Pelicans run in the third quarter. "We held onto that rope until the bitter end. We were not going to let it go if it had taken five overtimes."
Tyreke Evans, returning from a sprained left ankle, had 25 points and 10 assists for New Orleans, while Eric Gordon added 16 points, including a clutch 3 late in regulation and a driving floater late in the first overtime, the latter giving the Pelicans a three-point lead with 14 seconds to go.
But Barton answered with a 3 with 8.6 seconds left, and Evans missed a contested, close-range shot that could have won it at the end of the first extra session.
"I felt like we had the game in our hands and we gave up a 3," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "There are a lot of things to look at and it's certainly a growth moment for us. I didn't think our mentality was where it needed to be."
By the time the second overtime began, Davis had already played 46 minutes and it showed. Gordon also missed three shots as the Pelicans failed to score on their first five possession of the final extra period.
Evans' driving layup made it 114-111 with 1:19 left, but that was as close as the Pelicans got.
Nuggets: The game was a homecoming of sorts for Hunt, who grew up in the small town of Tallulah, in northeast Louisiana. ... Denver improved to 6-2 under Hunt, who took over when Brian Shaw was fired after the last time the Nuggets played New Orleans. ... The Nuggets hit 10 3s while winning only their 10th road game.
Pelicans: The Pelicans shot 46.5 percent (46 of 99) overall, but were only 6 of 22 from 3.
The Pelicans had 2-point leads three times inside the last minute of regulation, but driving layups by Faried, Nelson and then Faried again tied it each time. Then Davis, who scored twice in the last minute, missed a 20-footer for the win as regulation ended.
Davis worked the crowd into a frenzy in the first half when he rejected Barton's short jumper, then sprinted down court for a soaring two-handed jam off Norris Cole's long alley-oop lob.
Nuggets: Visit Memphis on Monday night.
Pelicans: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
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Posted on Mon, March 16, 2015
by BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer