NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Julius Randle had 33 points and 11 rebounds, Darius Miller scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame Anthony Davis’ absence in a 123-114 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
Miller hits five 3s, his last from the left wing to put the Pelicans up 115-109 with 1:12 to go.
After Robert Covington responded with a 3 for the Wolves to make it a one-possession game in the final minute, Miller hit two free throws on New Orleans’ next possession.
Jrue Holiday, who had 26 points, added three late free throws – one of them after Karl-Anthony Towns was assessed a technical foul – and the Wolves were unable to recover.
E’Twaun Moore scored 17 points for the Pelicans, who found out shortly before tip-off that Davis was too ill to play.
Towns finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds scoring 10 of his points during a tight fourth quarter before fouling out with 12.5 seconds left.
Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points for Minnesota, while Taj Gibson scored 17and Covington 16.
The Pelicans received a measure of good news before the game when guard Elfrid Payton was deemed ready to return from a fractured finger on his left, non-shooting hand that had sidelined him for 22 games. Playing about six minutes per quarter, Payton contributed nine points, six assists, a rebound and a steal while wearing tape over his previous injured finger.
Without Davis available to help attack the rim, the Pelicans shot decisively from 3 and it paid off as they hit 56 percent (14 of 25) from deep.
New Orleans went 9 of 13 from 3 in the first half, when they led by as many as 14. That opened up the paint for Randle, who scored 18 in the first half, although even one of his field goals came from deep.
The Wolves also let fly from 3 early and often, but with far different results, hitting only three of their first 16 from long range while shooting just worse than 40 percent (21 of 53) overall in the first half.
When Randle hit his second 3 of the game early in the second half, New Orleans was shooting 71.4 percent (10 of 14) from deep, and New Orleans led by 15 points.
But that’s when Minnesota suddenly rediscovered its offense, outscoring the Pelicans by 16 the rest of the third quarter. Covington helped ignite the comeback with consecutive 3s. Wiggins added another from long range and Towns hit from 27 feet out to tie it late in the period.
Timberwolves: Guard Derrick Rose missed his second straight game with a right ankle sprain. … Forward Keita Bates-Diop missed his second straight game with an illness. … Tyus Jones scored 15 points and Gorgui Dieng added 10 points. … The Wolves fell to 5-14 on the road.
Pelicans: After starting in place of Davis, Jahlil Okafor was called for three fouls within the first five minutes of the game and was subbed out in favor of Cheick Diallo. Okafor wound up playing just 14 minutes and had seven points and seven rebounds. … The Pelicans won two games during a three-game home stand to improve to 13-6 at home.
Timberwolves: Visit Boston on Wednesday night.
Pelicans: Visit Brooklyn on Wednesday night.
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