INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Not known for being expressive, Jrue Holiday couldn’t help himself when he got hot at the ideal time on Saturday night.
Holiday scored 14 of his 31 points in the final 2:26, including a go-ahead 3-pointer, and the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans beat the Indiana Pacers 124-117.
The key 3 broke a 108-all tie with 2:26 remaining. When he hit another 3-pointer for a 118-110 lead, Holiday let loose with a spirited scream.
“Just passion for the game,” he said. “I love to play this game. When you’re hot and got it going, sometimes that happens. Guess I was feeling it, huh?”
The Pelicans (22-31) were without Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, their top two scorers who combine to average 44.7 points.
But they still improved to 10-4 in their last 14 road games while handing the Pacers (31-22) their fifth consecutive loss. Despite missing the injured forwards, the Pelicans owned a 53-37 rebounding edge.
Guard JJ Redick backed Holiday with 23 points off the bench.
“I would say that this is our best team win from the standpoint of I think everyone contributed at some stage and gave us a lift,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry.
But it was Holiday, the seasoned 10-year pro, who capped his torrid finish with six consecutive free throws in the final 26.9 seconds.
“At the end, he did exactly what we needed him to do,” Gentry said. “He was aggressive, got the ball in the paint, and obviously made some shots.”
Holiday reminded how his team was humbled earlier this season when injuries ravaged the lineup, so he and his teammates know what it means to overcome adverse circumstances.
“We’ve been through a lot,” he said. “I know early on we lost 13 straight. We had a lot of guys out. At one point, I think we were playing with six or seven guys.”
The Pacers overcame a 12-point deficit in the second quarter to take a 103-99 lead with 5:57 remaining. Then Holiday hit a step-back 3-pointer as the Pelicans rallied.
Pacers coach Nate McMillan lamented his team’s lack of defense in game where the Pelicans hit 15 of 38 3-point attempts to the home team’s 9 of 26.
“We’re not closing,” McMillan said. “We’re not getting it done on either end of the floor.”
Jeremy Lamb led the Pacers with 26 points. T.J. Warren scored 22.
“They made shots, we didn’t,” Lamb said. “They got stops, we didn’t.”
Pelicans: Are 4-4 in games with Williamson in the lineup since his pro debut on Jan. 22. … Redick scored 13 points in the second quarter.
Pacers: Two-time All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, who has been playing as a reserve with minutes closely monitored in five games since his season debut on Jan. 29, was given the night off to rest as part of his recovery from a season-ending quad injury last spring. … Lamb scored 12 first-quarter points.
KNIGHT, KEADY HONORED
Longtime college basketball coaches Bob Knight of Indiana and Gene Keady of Purdue were presented with commemorative jerseys at halftime. Earlier in the day, both attended the Boilermakers-Hoosiers game in Bloomington, where Knight returned to Assembly Hall for the first time in two decades. They faced each other 41 times, with the three-time national champion Knight ranking first and Keady second on the Big Ten career wins list.
The last time these teams met in December made league history with three brothers, the Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday and the Pacers’ Aaron and Justin Holiday, sharing the same court. Reunited again this night, Justin scored seven points and Aaron two.
Pelicans: Host Portland on Tuesday.
Pacers: Host Brooklyn on Monday.