DENVER (AP) — Tyreke Evans scored 22 points, Dante Cunningham drew a key charge late in the fourth quarter and the New Orleans Pelicans extended their winning streak to five games by holding off the struggling Denver Nuggets 99-92 on Sunday night.
Eric Gordon added 18 points and Omer Asik grabbed 16 rebounds for the Pelicans, who were without All-Star forward Anthony Davis for a fourth straight game after he re-injured his right shoulder on Feb. 21. The Pelicans are 4-0 in Davis’ absence to remain in the playoff conversation.
Denver dropped its 10th straight at the Pepsi Center, its longest home skid since losing 11 in a row during the 1997-98 season.
Danilo Gallinari had 21 points for Denver, including a half-court shot to end the third quarter that revved up the crowd. The Nuggets fell to 0-6 since the All-Star break.
Gordon gave the Pelicans a 78-75 lead on a 3-pointer with 6:08 remaining. He hit another nearly two minutes later as the Nuggets kept things tight.
That’s when Cunningham came up big, making a jumper to increase the lead to 89-84. He then stepped in the way of Randy Foye as the guard drove down the lane. That helped send the Pelicans to their first win in the Mile High City since Jan. 9, 2012.
Alexis Ajinca scored all of his 10 points in the second half.
The biggest roar of the night was at the end of the third quarter when Gallinari stole a pass and hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 65. Gallinari was hugged by Kenneth Faried after the swish.
Denver ended the quarter on a 13-6 run to keep things close after being blown out in its last three home games.
Even though the Nuggets shot 30.6 percent from the floor in the first half, they went into the locker room tied at 37. The Pelicans led by as many as nine points in the opening half, but had eight turnovers and shot 1 for 11 from 3-point range.
Denver forward Darrell Arthur sat out a second straight game with a strained right calf. And while he’s nearing a return, rookie center Jusuf Nurkic (sprained right ankle) isn’t all that close. Coach Brian Shaw said Nurkic’s foot was still “really, really swollen. So my gut tells me that he’ll be out for a while.”
Without Nurkic, the Nuggets played Faried at center. New Orleans took advantage of the height mismatch early and scored its first 16 points from inside the paint.
Pelicans: Coach Monty Williams played one game with Denver in 1999. He hit one of two free throws in the contest. … Cunningham finished with 14 points.
Nuggets: By a 6-5 margin, the players voted to bring back morning shootarounds on game nights. Earlier this season, Shaw moved the traditional morning practice to the afternoon to give his players more time to sleep. “They were used to the routine being always the way it had been,” Shaw explained. … Ty Lawson had five points and 11 assists. … Foye, who made his first start of the season, finished with 19 points while Will Barton added 16 off the bench.
Pelicans: Visit Dallas on Monday night.
Nuggets: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
This article was written by Pat Graham from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.