The New Orleans Pelicans had just enough to hold on against the Milwaukee Bucks 85-84 on in the Smoothie King Center on Tuesday night.
The Pelicans looked like they were in for an easy night after a dominating first quarter saw them take a 32-21 lead, but the Bucks answered back with some great bench play to take a two-point halftime lead. The trend continued through the remainder of the game as New Orleans used a big third quarter to regain the advantage. The Bucks countered with a great defensive effort in the fourth, but couldn’t get a deep 3-point shot from Ersan Ilyasova to fall as the clock was winding down that would have secured the victory.
Defense won the day as neither team shot the ball well in the hard-fought game. New Orleans shot just 29-for-83 from the field (34.9 percent), including 8-for-25 from beyond the 3-point arc (32 percent), while the Bucks hit on 32-of-86 shots from the floor (37.2 percent), including 4-for-20 from distance (20 percent).
Anthony Davis led the way for New Orleans in the defensive struggle with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. He had plenty of help as three other starters found their way into double figures. Quincy Pondexter and Omer Asik were the most impressive of the three in the win. Pondexter finished with 18 points on 50 percent shooting from 3-point land to go along with seven rebounds and two assists while Asik totaled 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the floor with 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in just 29 minutes of action. Tyreke Evans also reached double digits in scoring with 12 points as well as 10 rebounds and six assists while Eric Gordon added nine points and seven helpers.
Ilyasova and Giannis Antetokounmpo led the scoring attack for the Bucks who fell to 34-33 on the season. Ilyasova had 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists while Antetokounmpo managed 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting with nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks. John Henson and Jerryd Bayless also had nice contributions in the loss. Henson had 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and four blocks while Bayless chipped in with 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Zaza Pachulia was the only other Milwaukee player to reach double figures with 11 points to go along with 11 rebounds and two steals.
Jimmer Fredette did not play for the second game in a row and the fifth time in six contests even though the Pelicans guards had a horrific shooting night. Evans, Gordon, Norris Cole and Elliot Williams combined for 28 points on 10-for-36 shooting from the field (27.7 percent), including 3-for-15 from 3-point range (20 percent).
Cole and Williams were also part of a bench unit that gave the Pelicans 10 points the whole night, yet Fredette got his 22nd DNP-CD of the season.
Up next for Fredette and the Pelicans is a Thursday night matchup with the Suns in Phoenix.