NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans held off the Milwaukee Bucks, 85-84 on Tuesday night.
Davis, who shoots around 55 percent, hit only 6 of 18 shots, but made 8 of 9 free throws and hit a clutch 15-footer that gave New Orleans an 85-82 lead with 1:07 left.
The lead held up by the narrowest of margins when Ersan Ilyasova’s 3-point attempt at the final horn rattled off the inside of the rim twice before bouncing out — much to the relief of the Pelicans, who moved back into the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with the victory.
Ilyasova and Giannis Antetokounmpo each scored 15 for Milwaukee, while Jerryd Bayless and John Henson each scored 14.
Quincy Pondexter hit five 3-pointers and finished with 18 points for New Orleans, while Omer Asik had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Both teams struggled to make shots. Milwaukee, which has now lost nine straight road games, shot 37.2 percent (32 of 86). New Orleans was an even-worse 34.9 percent (29 of 83), but made eight 3s to Milwaukee’s four and outscored the Bucks 19-16 on free throws.
New Orleans didn’t get a single point from a reserve until Alexis Ajinca scored inside with 1:43 left in the third quarter. Then Norris Cole added a 3 as the Pelicans closed the period on a 7-0 run to take a 70-62 lead.
But New Orleans hit only four of 20 shots in the fourth quarter, and Milwaukee tied it at 80 on Zaza Pachulia’s putback with 2:17 left.
Eric Gordon responded with a clutch 3 — only his third made shot on nine attempts — to help New Orleans hold on.
New Orleans raced in front by scoring the first 15 points of the game, with Evans scoring eight on a combination of jumpers, drives and free throws.
The Bucks didn’t score until Ilyasova hit a 3 with 6:19 to go in the first period, but it wasn’t long before Milwaukee was back in the game.
Defensively, the Bucks started clogging the middle and the Pelicans responded by missing jumpers.
Antetokounmpo’s turnaround in the final seconds of the first period started a 12-2 run spanning four-plus minutes.
The Pelicans went 0 for 9 during the first four minutes of the quarter and wound up scoring only 10 points in the period (a low for any quarter this season) on 3-for-22 shooting.
Milwaukee took its first lead at 38-35 on Antetokounmpo’s 8-foot jumper as he was fouled, and the Bucks led 44-42 at halftime.
Bucks: The Bucks have lost 13 straight road games against New Orleans. They haven’t won in the Big Easy since Jan. 27, 2003. … Michael Carter-Williams returned from a sore right ankle that sidelined him one game and had six points in 25 minutes, ending a streak of seven games scoring in double figures.
Pelicans: New Orleans won the only other meeting in Milwaukee on March 9, 114-103. … The Pelicans have no Eastern Conference teams left on their regular season schedule. They went 16-14 against the East.
Bucks: host San Antonio on Wednesday.
Pelicans: visit Phoenix on Thursday.
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