LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even against a New Orleans team minus leading scorer and rebounder Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Clippers had a tough time extending their winning streak.
Chris Paul had 25 points and 11 assists, Jamal Crawford added 21 points and the Clippers ran the NBA’s longest active streak to nine games with a 114–111 overtime victory against the Pelicans on Sunday.
“Yesterday we didn’t shoot well and our defense held up for us. Today our defense wasn’t as good as it was yesterday,” Paul said. “They were getting in the paint and making shots, especially early. But luckily we held on, and we’ll take it. All of them aren’t going to be pretty.”
“It’s just a bruise, and he feels good,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “But certain positions or certain moves that he makes, he gets a sharp pain. So it’s not worth the risk of putting him out there if he’s not fully ready to go.”
The Pelicans forced overtime when Los Angeles native Jrue Holiday made three free throws after he was fouled by Austin Rivers on a three-point attempt from the top of the key with 1.6 seconds left.
Holiday scored 12 of his season-high 29 points off the bench in the fourth quarter to help New Orleans erase a 12-point deficit. Tyreke Evans added 26.
“I think Jrue is a lot better than he thinks he is,” Paul said. “Today he got going and got a little bounce to him. He’s tough to stop when he gets going like that.”
Ryan Anderson, making his fourth start of the season in Davis' power forward spot, had 16 points and 10 rebounds in 42 minutes.
The Pelicans have lost five of six, including a 95-89 defeat at home against the Clippers on New Year's Eve.
“I think today was some of the most consistent effort we have had,” Holiday said. “If we go into every game with that type of effort, we will continue to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Trailing 88–76 early in the fourth, the Pelicans narrowed the gap to 93–89 with a 13–5 run capped by Evans’s fast-break layup with 6:54 to play. Holiday cut it to 98–96 on a three-pointer with 3:32 remaining, but Dante Cunningham missed a potential go-ahead three with eight seconds on the clock.
Wesley Johnson and Paul hit three-pointers 1:07 apart in the final 2:22 of overtime to help the Clippers close it out.
“A.D. didn’t play, so they played extremely spirited,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought this was a tough game coming into it—back-to-back afternoon games. We had so many chances to put it away. We didn’t play great, but we still won.”
The Pelicans are 0–4 with Davis out of the lineup. Last season, they were 6–8 when Davis didn’t play—including a 108–103 home win against the Clippers in which Anderson and former Clipper Eric Gordon combined for 52 points.
“We lost to this team last year when A.D. sat out,” Paul said. “I told Paul Pierce before the game that you’d rather their big guy play, because you know where the ball is going. When he’s out, everybody else moves a little bit.”
The winning streak is the Clippers’ fourth of nine or more games during the past four seasons. They won a franchise-record 17 straight in 2012–13.
Los Angeles is 8–0 since leading scorer Blake Griffin went down with a partially torn tendon in his left quad. Overall, the Clippers are 20–8 when the five-time All-Star has sat out due to injury or suspension—including 9-6 last season.
“We’re happy that we’re winning games, and we want to continue to try to keep winning and build up the team as much as possible. But this is not our team until 32 gets back,” Paul said.
“When you lose somebody as important as Blake, everybody knew they had to step up. A lot of times we just throw it to him and watch him go to work, and now we’re having to do a lot more. But our defense has come together, and we just keep trying to hold it down until he gets back.”