NEW ORLEANS — With 10:01 to play Friday night, the Pelicans looked overmatched and overwhelmed against Minnesota.
The Timberwolves were having their way physically with New Orleans, Kevin Love roughing up the Pelicans’ newly minted All-Star Anthony Davis along the way.
But a funny thing happened on the way to what would have been New Orleans’ 28th loss of the season.
Monty Williams called timeout, subbed in Eric Gordon for a struggling Tyreke Evans and the Pelicans did something normally done to them late in games.
New Orleans overcame a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit, using a 23-7 run to overtake the Timberwolves and earned a 98-91 win in the first-ever game at the Smoothie King Center.
Gordon was big, going 4-for-5 for nine points. That was matched by Anthony Morrow, whose nine points came on all three 3-pointers he took in the final 12 minutes. And Anthony Davis added six points and seven rebounds in the last frame.
“I’m not that bright,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said when asked if the timeout was meant to stop Minnesota’s momentum. “As a coach you’re just trying to figure out lineups to help your team. You’re trying to look for a rotation and you’re trying to look for someone to give you a spark.”
It certainly worked.
And now the Pelicans (22-27) have won seven of their past 10 games. With three games left before the All-Star break, New Orleans could suddenly get within sight of .500 despite missing Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith.
“Just to sustain what we’ve been doing,” said Gordon, who finished with 20 points and four assists. “We’ve been playing good teams and on the road it’s always tough. Just to keep on scoring. Can’t be having lapses.”
Davis appeared early to be having a lapse on national television the day he was named to the All-Star game. The Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, an All-Star as well, took a physical toll on the second-year player. He culled four fouls out of Davis in the first three quarter.
But with everything on the line, Davis ended up with 26 points, 10 rebounds and one block.
Love. Too, had a big game, ending with 26 points, 19 rebounds and three assists.
It wasn’t enough to counter the Pelicans’ fourth quarter, when New Orleans outscored the Timberwolves (24-26) by 17 points and held Minnesota to just six made baskets.
“We just go out there and do everything we’re supposed to,” Davis said. “The third quarter we really didn’t play our defense. ... Fourth quarter we did, and it showed, holding them to 20 points.”