Ryan Anderson’s six three-pointers, highlighted by his off-balance rainbow from the left wing at the third-quarter horn, left the Charlotte Hornets little choice but to pay close attention to the Pelicans’ sharp-shooting forward in the waning moments a tie game.
That gave Anthony Davis the opening he needed to convert Jrue Holiday’s alley-oop lob into a thunderous, two-handed, winning dunk with 2 seconds left.
Anderson scored a season-high 32 points, Davis’ late dunk gave him 22, and New Orleans edged the Hornets 109-107 on Friday night.
“They had been helping on me all night and leaving Ryan open,” Davis said about Charlotte’s defensive approach for most of the game.
Anderson, Davis said, “Was making them pay, so they probably though we were going to go to Ryan” on the final possession.
“Coach just drew it up well and we executed,” Davis added.
Holiday scored 13 points, including a short turnaround that gave the Pelicans a 105-102 lead with 57 seconds left. Holiday’s 10th and final assist came on Davis’ pivotal dunk.
“Obviously, we had a blown coverage on the biggest defensive possession of the game on really a pretty basic play,” Charlotte Coach Steve Clifford said. “We'll win when we deserve to win. You’ve got to do everything right.”
Kemba Walker scored 25 points for Charlotte, including a tying three with 19.2 seconds left. Nicolas Batum also had 25, with 19 points coming in the second half. But Batum’s last-second three-pointer from the left corner bounced out.
“I feel I shot the ball pretty well,” Batum said. “It’s a long season with a lot of bumps. You just have to stay focused.”
Rookie Frank Kaminsky scored 18 points for Charlotte on 7-for-9 shooting, making both of his three-point shots.
Charlotte’s last lead came when Batum hit a tough, 14-foot turnaround with Davis in his face to make it 102-101 with 20:4 left.
Neither team led by more than seven points until late in the first half, when New Orleans, already up six, had a four-point possession on a technical free throw, followed by Anderson’s fifth 3 of the half to make it 57-47.
Kaminsky’s putback in the final second of the quarter made it 57-49 at halftime.
New Orleans led by as many as 13 when Evans opened the third quarter by hitting a 3 from 31 feet, then stealing the ball from Walker to set up his breakaway dunk.
But Batum scored 15 points in the third period on an array of 3s, mid-range fades, and dribble drives to help Charlotte surge into the lead.
“There are many ups and downs in a game. We got on a run and Nic helped fuel that,” said Walker, who was screened by Davis before the New Orleans’ All-Star rolled to the hoop for Holiday’s lob. “We just did not make enough plays late to come away with the win. We will have to look at the film and see what happened with the AD basket.”
Batum’s three-point play on a driving layup as he was fouled capped a 20-6 run the put Charlotte up 73-70, but the Pelicans settled down and closed the third period up 84-81 after Anderson’s crowd-pleasing three.
Both teams shot well in a game that had 14 lead changes and 12 ties.
New Orleans shot 49.4 percent (43 of 87), including 12 of 27 from three-point range. Charlotte shot 48.8 percent (42 of 86), hitting 14 of 35 three-point attempts.
The Pelicans have now hit at least 10 three-pointers in a game 14 times this season — as many as all of last season.
“We moved the ball. We found the open man. We were incredibly unselfish today,” Anderson said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was wide open. It’s fun to play that way. … We have so many guys that can score, when you find the open man, you know that guy’s going to knock it down.”