NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As Quincy Pondexter saw his 3-pointer go down with 49.9 seconds on the clock, he turned up court, allowed a slight smile and pounded his chest with the palm of his hand three times.
The clutch basket as the shot clock wound down gave Pondexter a career-high 25 points and all but sealed New Orleans' third straight victory, a 102-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
"That's probably why a little emotion came out," Pondexter said. "It was a dagger."
Tyreke Evans had 15 points and 11 assists for the Pelicans, who have for all practical purposes posted their past three victories without All-Star Anthony Davis.
Davis sprained his right shoulder in the first quarter of New Orleans' victory in Miami on Saturday night and has not suited up for either of the Pelicans past two games against Toronto and Brooklyn.
New Orleans was also without two other top players: forward Ryan Anderson (sprained right knee) and point guard Jrue Holiday (lower right leg injury).
"Missing Ryan, missing A.D., missing Jrue — those are great young players," Pondexter said. "We're in a playoff chase and I had to step up."
The victory left New Orleans two games behind Oklahoma City for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"I don't think anyone in this locker room counts us out. We have a lot of heart," Pondexter said. "We're not going to lay down just because a couple guys get hurt."
Omer Asik had 12 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans. Dante Cunningham added 13 points, Norris Cole 11 and Alexis Ajinca 10 for the Pelicans, who overcame 20 turnovers by shooting 51.4 percent.
Cole credited Evans with using powerful drives to draw defenders, then finding open shooters.
"It's great when multiple guys are getting those looks. It creates the feeling of just good basketball," Cole said. "With the turnovers we had, if we didn't shoot that well, I'm not sure what it would look like this game. Good thing we knocked them in."
Joe Johnson scored 21 points and Thaddeus Young added 19 for Brooklyn, which lost for the first time in three games.
Jarrett Jack, who had missed Brooklyn's past two games with a sore left hamstring, scored 15 points against his former team. Brook Lopez also scored 15 for the Nets.
"We played a solid performance," Jack said. "They knocked down the necessary shots and we just couldn't get stops down the stretch. ... They have a lot of good shooters that can complement the pressure they put on the middle."
Brooklyn, which held a couple of two-point leads in the third quarter, outscored New Orleans 52-42 in the paint, 16-9 on second-chance points, and 16-12 on fast-break points.
But New Orleans combined for 11 3s and outrebounded the Nets, 43-37.
New Orleans was clinging to an 83-82 lead in the fourth quarter when Luke Babbitt's 3 ignited a 10-0 run. Babbitt hit a second 3 during the surge, which ended with Evans' reverse layup. The Nets could not get within five after that.
"We played well," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "Just not well enough."
Nets: Markel Brown, making his second career start, played in his home state for the first time since high school. Brown is from Pineville in central Louisiana. His family and friends in attendance were treated to his breakaway dunk on which he spun 360 degrees in the air. ... Young banked in a free throw early in the game and could be seen chuckling to himself.
Pelicans: Asik was called for traveling in the first quarter when he appeared to take five steps without dribbling before tossing up a running hook. The call was obvious enough that it evoked laughter, rather than boos, from the home crowd. ... Pondexter, who was wearing a microphone for FOX Sports, was assessed a technical foul for arguing an official's charging call against Evans in the third quarter.
The Nets opened the game looking more like tourists coming off a long night on Bourbon Street, missing 13 of their first 15 shots while turning the ball over four times. New Orleans raced to a 15-4 lead, but the Nets were only down 53-50 at halftime.
Nets: Visit Houston on Friday night.
Pelicans: Host Miami on Friday night.
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Posted on Thu, February 26, 2015
by BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer