Wolves can’t hang with New Orleans

MINNEAPOLIS -- The New Orleans Pelicans started their Mardi Gras celebration a few hours early, snapping a four-game losing streak by blitzing the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-102 on Monday.

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Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones dribbles the ball past New Orleans Pelicans guard Toney Douglas in the second half at Target Center. The Pelicans won 116-102. (Photo by Jesse Johnson - USA Today Sports)
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MINNEAPOLIS - The New Orleans Pelicans started their Mardi Gras celebration a few hours early, snapping a four-game losing streak by blitzing the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-102 on Monday.

Forward Anthony Davis led the way with 27 points on 13-of-22 shooting as the Pelicans blew open a close game in the second quarter and never looked back. Guard Jrue Holiday came off the bench to add 27 points for the Pelicans. And forward Ryan Anderson scored 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter for New Orleans (19-32).

“It’s good for us,” said Davis of the contributions of Holiday and Anderson off the bench. “When you’ve got two players like that who can score the ball that well and are good on the defensive end putting ball pressure when they guard, it’s good. Even when you have bad starts, you’ve got guys who can come in and make plays. We’re very grateful for them too.”

Minnesota, which had won two in a row, got 19 points from forward Karl-Anthony Towns, but struggled defensively, falling to 16-37. Forward Andrew Wiggins added 15 for the Timberwolves, who also got 14 points from reserve forward Shabazz Muhammad.

Trailing 28-22 after one quarter, the Wolves scored the first five points of the second quarter to pull within a point at 28-27. Then the roof fell in for the home team. While Minnesota went nearly eight minutes without a field goal, the Pelicans got hot, going on a 22-3 run and opening up a 50-30 lead. New Orleans led by as many as 23 in the quarter, and held a 63-46 lead at halftime.


“You pick your poison. Tonight we had a play where you kind of have to choose what you’re going to do,” Anderson said. “If you’re going to focus on Anthony on the roll, then Jrue’s going to be open or I’m going to be open. If you want to eliminate me and Anthony, then Jrue’s going to be wide open. That’s why we take advantage of that group when we’re on the court and we take advantage of plays where we can spread the floor and find each other.”

Holiday paced New Orleans with 20 points, including a pair of three-pointers, in the first half, while Davis added 17. Minnesota got 14 first-half points from Towns on 5-of-7 shooting, and Wiggins chipped in with 10.

The Pelicans have been limiting Holiday’s minutes in an effort to keep him healthy, but New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry admitted it’s tough take him out of the game at times.

“I do have an assistant that takes him out regardless if I want to take him out or not,” Gentry said. “I had to assign a guy to do that because it would be hard for me to do it. It really is, especially when he’s playing at the level that he is and the game is still teetering either way. So I did assign a guy to say he’s got to come out and send a sub in even without my permission.”

Minnesota got its offense going in the third quarter, cutting the Pelicans’ lead to a dozen points three times. But a lack of defense doomed the Wolves, as Davis scored 10 more in the quarter and New Orleans boosted its lead to 95-70 heading into the final quarter.

Frustration clearly mounted for Minnesota, and Timberwolves center Gorgui Deng was whistled for a technical after his unsuccessful drive to the basket was called an offensive foul.

“I’m just going to say it’s one of those clunkers,” Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell said. “You get two, three, four a season. I can’t recall, we haven’t had one in a long time. Just one of those nobody really played well. Nobody played bad, but nobody played well. We just kind of played and those are the kind of results you’re going to get.”

One bright spot for Minnesota was Towns, the top overall pick in the 2015 draft. He recorded his 29th double-double with 12 rebounds, matching the rookie mark set by forward Kevin Love in 2009. Towns has 29 regular-season games left to break the team record.


“We’ve been playing so well recently,” Towns said. “We didn’t expect to hit a wall like this.”

NOTES: Minnesota interim coach Sam Mitchell defended his use of so many young players in the lineup before the game, praising his rookies for their contributions. “To me, that’s the only way for us,” Mitchell said. “They give us our best chance to win, and the best thing about it is, win or lose these guys are getting better and learning. We see it every day. They’re growing up.” ... New Orleans rookie G Bryce Dejean-Jones, who was signed to a second 10-day contract on Feb. 1, is learning on the job, according to comments by Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry before the game. “He’s just a young player and he’s going to make mistakes, and we’ve got to let him play through some of those, or pull him out and talk to him on some of them,” Gentry said. “It’s just a typical thing.” ... The Pelicans have Tuesday off, then play back-to-back games before the All-Star break, hosting the Utah Jazz on Wednesday and visiting the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. The Timberwolves host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, then have an eight-day break.

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