By Brett Martel, Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jrue Holiday scored 19 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame an eight-point deficit in the final period to beat the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers 131-124 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time).
Anthony Davis added 29 points and DeMarcus Cousins 23 for New Orleans, which looked out-of-synch in the third quarter and in danger of dropping a second straight at home before Holiday took over.
Rajon Rondo, who sat out the Pelicans' surprising collapse against Sacramento on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), returned with 13 points and 18 assists.
Ben Simmons, who played one season at LSU before being selected first overall in the 2016 draft, had 27 points and 10 rebounds, dazzling the crowd with a handful of explosive, driving dunks, including a reverse jam along the baseline that had the Sixers as close as 108-107 with 7:26 left.
But Holiday responded quickly with one of his five three's in the fourth quarter, and Davis hit another to make it 114-107.
J.J. Redick, who had 28 points, hit a tough 22-foot jumper that briefly cut the Sixers' deficit to five without about four minutes left, but Holiday again responded with a triple, and his final three a couple possessions later gave the Pelicans' an 11-point lead with 2:54 to go.
Already without 6'9" starting forward Robert Covington, the Sixers scratched 7-foot center Joel Embiid minutes before the game because of back stiffness, seemingly providing a Pelicans team powered by All-Star big men Davis and Cousins a considerable advantage.
Instead, Philadelphia out-rebounded New Orleans 47-33 and outscored the Pelicans 60-44 in the paint. The Sixers snagged 22 offensive rebounds, which tied a season-high and led to 20 second-chance points.
Amir Johnson and Trevor Booker each had 16 points for the Sixers, while Dario Saric had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Pelicans guard E'Twaun Moore capped a 14-point performance with a dunk on a feed from Rondo that helped seal the game.
76ers: Embiid, whose playing time had been limited since offseason knee surgery, was expected to play in New Orleans after sitting out in Cleveland on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). ... Covington was ruled out because of a back injury stemming from his leap into the stands in Cleveland a night earlier. ... Guard T.J. McConnell also was scratched. He'd been questionable with a left shoulder sprain and wound up missing his second straight game, and fifth game out of six overall. ... Richaun Holmes scored 12 points. He and Booker each grabbed nine rebounds.
Pelicans: Davis was called for a flagrant foul with 4:54 to go for lifting his elbow while setting a screen and hitting Simmons in the head. ... Cousins' playing time was limited when he was assessed his fifth foul with 9:33 left. ... Reserve swing player Tony Allen dropped to the court in the first quarter before limping to the locker room on his own with what team officials said was a left knee injury. He did not return. ... New Orleans had not allowed an opponent to grab more than 18 offensive rebounds before Philadelphia topped that figure. ... Dante Cunningham scored 10 points.
76ers: At Minnesota on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time).
Pelicans: At Houston on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time).