NEW ORLEANS (AP) — George Hill's confidence in the clutch, cultivated by a deep playoff run just last spring, was never more obvious than when he received a pass at the top of the 3-point arc inside the final minute.
The moment Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday backed off Hill in order to defend against a possible pass or drive, Hill sprung into his shooting motion and drained a 3-pointer with 31.1 seconds left.
The shot provided a four-point cushion, and Indiana went on to complete a 16-point, second-half comeback for its second victory in as many nights, 95-90 over New Orleans on Wednesday night.
"I'd seen Jrue back up just a little bit to try to play the passing lane and I had that rhythm," said Hill, who finished with 19 points. "I'm a big believer in not being scared to make a play. Sometimes you're going to hit it and sometimes you're not and today I hit it."
Hill's performance was but one example of how the Pacers' poise made the difference against a talented but young Pelicans squad that will need time to develop chemistry after several significant offseason moves, highlighted by draft-day trade that brought Holiday, a former Philadelphia All-Star, to the Big Easy.
"They stayed consistent. They stayed true to their offense. They executed down the stretch," Holiday said of the Pacers. "They didn't hesitate or get nervous when they were down and I think that is something to learn from. Me personally, I think I could have executed better, got some of our teammates in the right places, gotten into better plays. It's about learning. You can learn from every loss."
Holiday also admitted he did not expect Hill to pull up for his pivotal 3.
"I should have been a little bit closer," Holiday said. "He's hit big shots before. He's definitely a guy we don't want to take that shot. "
But New Orleans had other players to worry about, such as Paul George, who scored a game-high 32 points, one night after scoring 24 in Indiana's home-opening victory over Orlando.
Former New Orleans forward David West also helped Indiana spoil the home opener for the rebranded Pelicans by hitting four free throws in the final 1:06. He finished with 12 points and said he was not the least bit surprised by Indiana's ability to orchestrate a methodical comeback on the road.
"That's how we won a lot of games last year. We trust our preparation, the work that we put in and trust ourselves in those key moments," West said. "We've got guys in this locker room that have confidence that's a mile-high, particularly late in the game. We believe whoever's got the ball is going to make the right play. We came up with another tough win. We're confident in games like this even when a team gets going on us early."
Lance Stephenson scored 16 points, Roy Hibbert blocked five shots and Ian Mahinmi blocked four for Indiana, which had 12 blocks in all.
Eric Gordon scored 25 points, Holiday added 24 and Anthony Davis had 20 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
The Pelicans led 85-81 after Holiday's jumper, but Hibbert scored on a spin move in the paint while drawing center Jason Smith's sixth foul, then made the free throw to make it 85-84.
West then snagged the rebound of Holiday's missed jumper and soon after hit the first of his late free throws, giving Indiana the lead for good. On New Orleans' next possession, West helped defend Davis' miss on a driving layup attempt, and Indiana followed with Hill's 3.
Trailing 52-36 after Smith's basket opened scoring in the third period, Indiana quickly closed the gap with a 10-0 run fueled by Hill's layup and 3-pointer.
Holiday snapped the run with free throws after he was fouled on a fast break. Still, George scored 11 in the period, after which he had 24 points, and the Pacers trailed 66-59.
Indiana continued to chip away. Hill's 3 pulled the Pacers to 76-74 halfway through the final period, then George's pullup jumper tied it at 76.
"We didn't give it away," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "They took the game. I just don't think we had an understanding of the moment in the fourth quarter."
NOTES: The Pelicans announced shortly before tip-off that F Ryan Anderson, one of their best 3-point shooters, would miss one to three weeks because of a chip fracture in a toe on his right foot. ... New Orleans native Danny Granger was out for the Pacers with a strained left calf. ... Double technical fouls were called on Stephenson and Pelicans reserve C Greg Stiemsma for shoving one another in the paint after a Pacers' tip-in during the second quarter. ... The Pelicans formally introduced their new Pelican mascot, named Pierre, a nod to Louisiana's French colonial influences. Pierre replaces Hugo the Hornet.
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Posted on Thu, October 31, 2013