NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Malik Beasley scored 28 points, D’Angelo Russell scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the New Orleans Pelicans 139-134 on Tuesday night.
Zion Williamson scored 25 points and Jrue Holiday had 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which dropped its second straight at home and fell four games behind Memphis for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
The Pelicans need to pile up wins in the season’s final weeks to reach the playoffs. A game against a Minnesota team that came in having won twice in its past 22 games was a clear opportunity to win for the seventh time in 10 games.
Instead, New Orleans hurt itself by turning the ball over 15 times, missing 25 of 39 3-point attempts, missing 11 of 27 free throws and repeatedly breaking down defensively, particularly along the perimeter.
Beasley made 11 of 13 shots, including four 3s on five attempts. James Johnson scored 19 points, former LSU player Naz Reid had 13 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, and Juancho Hernangomez scored 16 for Minnesota, which shot 55.7% (54 of 97) overall and went 17 of 20 from the foul line.
The game was tied at 122 after Holiday’s layup with 6:25 to go. New Orleans then went scoreless while missing five shots during a span of more than two minutes as the Wolves scored seven straight, starting with Russell’s 3.
With three minutes to go, Holiday’s underthrown long pass for Williamson resulted in a turnover and easy dunk for Hernangomez on the other end to make it 133-124. The Pelicans couldn’t recover, missing seven more shots after that.
The Pelicans looked primed to pull away early in the second quarter, when Williamson snagged an offensive rebound between Reid, Kelan Martin and Jake Layman and went back up for a layup as he was fouled. Two possessions later, Williamson threw down an alley-oop lob from Josh Hart.
New Orleans’ lead grew to 12 when Williamson passed back to the perimeter to set up Lonzo Ball’s 3, but the Pelicans began to falter defensively and Minnesota started hitting from outside.
Reid and Jordan McLaughlin each hit 3s during a 14-0 run than vaulted the Wolves into the lead. Minnesota hit five of seven attempted 3s on their way to a 44-point period and 72-68 halftime lead.
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