Pistons fall to Pelicans, road woes mount
New Orleans — The New Orleans Pelicans are blessed with the luxury of two superstars, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
For most of the first three quarters, it was Davis’ night. After Davis played well and suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter, Cousins picked up where Davis left off. Cousins took over early in the fourth quarter and pushed the Pelicans to a 112-109 victory over the Pistons on Monday night at the Smoothie King Center.
It’s the third loss in the last four games — and fifth straight on the road — for the Pistons (21-18), who play again Wednesday at Brooklyn.
Davis had 30 points and 10 rebounds before he sustained the ankle injury, driving to the basket and colliding on a foul. He split the two free throws, for an 81-71 lead and the Pelicans (20-19) were in control.
The Pistons responded with the next nine points, with a 3-pointer and jumper by Avery Bradley (24 points) and four free throws by Ish Smith (16 points) to get the Pistons within one.
The Pelicans finished the quarter with an 86-84 lead after Tobias Harris (25 points) hit a pair of free throws. Harris added a floater and 3-pointer early in the fourth and the Pistons were ahead 89-86.
That’s where Cousins took over.
Cousins hit a pair of free throws, then added a 3-pointer and scored on a drive. He added a three-point play and another drive, capping a 14-2 run with 12 of the points.
The Pistons’ deficit grew to eight but Bradley surged, with six straight points, including a 3-pointer and drive, to pull within 103-101 at the 4:06 mark. That was part of a 10-2 surge, with a putback by Harris and a lay-in by Reggie Bullock, to tie it at 105.
Cousins again made his mark, scoring on a putback and Rajon Rondo (12 points and 15 assists) added a layin with 1:21 left.
Andre Drummond (16 points, 14 rebounds) had the Pistons’ last two baskets, but the Pistons were down three on their final possession, with 5.1 seconds left. Bradley had a chance at a corner 3-pointer on an out-of-bounds play but the shot was off the mark.
Here are more observations from the loss:
■ The Pistons used Reggie Bullock in the starting lineup, though they had typically used Anthony Tolliver against taller lineups. That mismatch, with Harris guarding Davis, let the Pelicans get off to a good start. Tolliver started the second half, though.
■ Stanley Johnson (hip flexor) gave it another try to play, but didn’t get in the game after a tough pregame warm-up in testing out the range of motion of the hip. He’s missed five straight games because of the injury and likely will give it another go on Wednesday at Brooklyn.
■ It was the first time the Pistons have faced both Davis and Cousins – and they looked to have trouble trying to match up and keep them off the boards. It’s a tough matchup, but the Pistons did a fairly good job, even with a smaller group.