Babbitt leads Pelicans past Nuggets 101-95
NEW ORLEANS (AP) With a roster full of former D-Leaguers, the injury-depleted New Orleans Pelicans gave an A-type effort.
Luke Babbitt scored 22 points and Tim Frazier had 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, leading the Pelicans past the Denver Nuggets 101-95 on Thursday night.
Frazier, one of three key contributors not on the roster at the beginning of March, gave New Orleans the lead for good, 81-80, on a high-arching shot early in the fourth quarter. He then scored six points on a three-point play and 3-point shot to give the Pelicans a 92-84 advantage.
Frazier was signed to a 10-day contract on March 16 before being re-signed for the rest of the season. Jordan Hamilton, who signed a 10-day contract on March 25, scored 14 in his second game as a starter. James Ennis, who was signed Wednesday, added 11 points.
''All three of us were in the D League, and any time you get a chance to get in the NBA, you have to take advantage of it,'' Frazier said. ''Guys stepped up from top to bottom. I don't know how many we had in double figures, but everybody contributed in some way to get this win.''
Babbitt had 10 of the Pelicans' first 12 points and scored on a driving layup with 2:08 left to give them a 94-89 lead. After Denver cut the deficit to 94-91, Babbitt hit two free throws and Frazier sank a 3-pointer to put the game away.
Toney Douglas added 20 points and a season-high 10 assists for New Orleans, which played without its top five scorers. Frazier contributed eight assists to go along with his big baskets.
''It's been really impressive,'' Babbitt said. ''Tim's done a good job, and the two new guys (Hamilton and Ennis), and done a great job just playing hard, knocking down shots and defending. It's not always going to be pretty, but we're going to fight and that means a lot in the NBA.''
Darrell Arthur tied a career high with 24 points off the bench for Denver, which is on the verge of following the Pelicans and being eliminated from the Western Conference playoff picture. Gary Harris added 16 points, and Kenneth Faried had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Nuggets, who won at Memphis on Wednesday to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, could not take advantage of the Pelicans' lack of familiarity. In one sequence during the third quarter, Denver botched consecutive fast breaks when a crosscourt pass hit the bottom of the net and an attempted alley-oop sailed over Faried's outstretched fingers.
''I feel like every game at this point is a learning experience,'' Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. ''It's a game we definitely should have won, but we didn't come out with the energy or do what we needed to do to win.''
There were 13 lead changes in the first quarter, six in the second quarter and seven in the third, with neither team pulling ahead by more than six points. Denver scored the last six points of the third quarter to go ahead 78-77.
Center Omer Asik is New Orleans' only starter from the teams' last meeting on Dec. 20 who is not out for the rest of the season with an injury. The list of key contributors lost includes Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans.
Denver's Will Barton, who averaged 24.7 points and hit 13 of 21 3s in the last three meetings with the Pelicans, went 0 for 8 from the floor and scored his first points on three free throws with 1.18 left in the third quarter.
''We spent a lot of time talking about him today in the coaches' meeting because he has played really well against us,'' Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. ''We did a great job on him to keep him in check.''
Nuggets: Despite losing, Denver completed its first winning month of the season, going 9-8. ... The Nuggets hit 12 of 19 shots in the second quarter, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. They were 24 for 64 (37.5 percent) in the other three quarters and 6 of 22 on 3s.
Pelicans: New Orleans finished 5-12 in March. Its only winning month was January, when it went 8-6. ... Gentry used his 38th starting lineup, extending a franchise record. ... Babbitt also had 10 rebounds for his first double-double in New Orleans and second of his career. The first came in his rookie season with Portland in 2010-11.
Nuggets: Host Sacramento on Saturday.
Pelicans: At Brooklyn on Sunday.