NBA: Pelicans beat Timberwolves to end four-game losing run

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andre Miller (centre) passes the ball between New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis (left) and Norris Cole.
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andre Miller (centre) passes the ball between New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis (left) and Norris Cole.PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

(REUTERS) - The New Orleans Pelicans started their Mardi Gras celebration a few hours early, snapping a four-game losing streak by blitzing the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-102 in the National Basketball Association league on Monday.

Forward Anthony Davis led the way with 27 points on 13-of-22 shooting, as the Pelicans blew open a close game in the second quarter and never looked back.

Guard Jrue Holiday came off the bench to add 27 points for the Pelicans. And forward Ryan Anderson scored 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter for New Orleans (19-32), who are fourth from bottom of the Western Conference.

"It's good for us," said Davis, of the contributions of Holiday and Anderson off the bench.

"When you've got two players like that who can score the ball that well and are good on the defensive end putting ball pressure when they guard, it's good.

"Even when you have bad starts, you've got guys who can come in and make plays. We're very grateful for them too."

Minnesota, who had won two in a row, got 19 points from forward Karl-Anthony Towns, but struggled defensively, falling to 16-37.

Forward Andrew Wiggins added 15 for the Timberwolves, who also got 14 points from reserve forward Shabazz Muhammad.

Trailing 22-28 after one quarter, the Wolves scored the first five points of the second quarter to pull within a point at 27-28. Then the roof fell in for the home team.

While Minnesota went nearly eight minutes without a field goal, the Pelicans got hot, going on a 22-3 run and opening up a 50-30 lead. New Orleans led by as many as 23 in the quarter, and held a 63-46 lead at half-time.

"You pick your poison. Tonight we had a play where you kind of have to choose what you're going to do," Anderson said. "If you're going to focus on Anthony on the roll, then Jrue's going to be open or I'm going to be open.

"If you want to eliminate me and Anthony, then Jrue's going to be wide open. That's why we take advantage of that group when we're on the court and we take advantage of plays where we can spread the floor and find each other."

Holiday paced New Orleans with 20 points, including a pair of three-pointers, in the first half, while Davis added 17. Minnesota got 14 first-half points from Towns on 5-of-7 shooting, and Wiggins chipped in with 10.

The Pelicans have been limiting Holiday's minutes in an effort to keep him healthy, but New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry admitted it's tough take him out of the game at times.

"I do have an assistant that takes him out regardless if I want to take him out or not," he said. "I had to assign a guy to do that because it would be hard for me to do it.

"It really is, especially when he's playing at the level that he is and the game is still teetering either way. So I did assign a guy to say he's got to come out and send a sub in even without my permission."

Minnesota got their offence going in the third quarter, cutting the Pelicans' lead to a dozen points three times. But a lack of defence doomed the Wolves, as Davis scored 10 more in the quarter and New Orleans boosted their lead to 95-70 heading into the final quarter.

Frustration clearly mounted for Minnesota, and Timberwolves centre Gorgui Deng was whistled for a technical after his unsuccessful drive to the basket was called an offensive foul.

"I'm just going to say it's one of those clunkers," Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell said. "You get two, three, four a season. I can't recall, we haven't had one in a long time. "Just one of those nobody really played well. Nobody played bad, but nobody played well. We just kind of played and those are the kind of results you're going to get."

One bright spot for Minnesota, third from bottom in the West, was Towns, the top overall pick in the 2015 draft. He recorded his 29th double-double with 12 rebounds, matching the rookie mark set by forward Kevin Love in 2009.

Towns has 29 regular-season games left to break the team record.

"We've been playing so well recently," he said. "We didn't expect to hit a wall like this."