NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis highlighted a 20-point performance with a soaring, one-handed alley-oop dunk during a pivotal fourth-quarter spurt, and the suddenly surging New Orleans Pelicans beat the Los Angeles Clippers 102-98 on Wednesday night.

Buddy Hield scored 17 points for New Orleans, which was won three straight, while Pelicans reserve guard Tyreke Evans added a season-high 12 points in his sixth game back from a right knee injury.

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Chris Paul returned from a three-game absence and scored 21 points, but couldn’t quite lift the Clippers out of a funk that has seen them lose four straight.

Fellow ex-Pelican Austin Rivers scored 22 points for Los Angeles and DeAndre Jordan had 25 rebounds to go with 13 points.

Marreese Speights, who scored 11 points, missed a potential tying 3-pointer in the final seconds. Davis then tipped the miss to Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, dooming the Clippers to a fourth straight loss.

Holiday had 11 points and nine assists.

Despite playing center instead of power forward, where he’s played much of the season, Davis didn’t have his usual double-digit rebound totals. But he had two blocks and three steals, none more important than when he tipped Jordan’s outlet pass to himself near the Clippers’ basket and immediately converted a short one-handed floater to make it 101-93 with 1:41 left.

The Clippers still managed to threaten once more after Rivers hit a 3 and Raymond Felton stole Holiday’s pass and set up Jamal Crawford’s layup to make it 101-98 with 35 seconds left. New Orleans failed to convert on its next possession, but not until after running the game clock down to 14 seconds.

New Orleans played more than half the game without coach Alvin Gentry, who was ejected while arguing over a three-shot foul called against Holiday as he defended Paul on the perimeter. Paul appeared to draw contact by swinging the ball laterally through Holiday’s outstretched hand, then quickly tossed up a shot as official Lauren Holtkamp — who Paul has previously criticized publicly — blew the whistle. Holtkamp called the first technical on Gentry and fellow official Kane Fitzgerald called the second.

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Top Pelicans assistant Darren Erman took over for Gentry after the ejection.

Paul made all three free throws, plus both technical free throws to give the Clippers a 45-39 lead, and Los Angeles led 56-49 at halftime.


Clippers: Guard J.J. Redick, who averages 15.4 points this season, missed his second straight game with a sore left hamstring. Coach Doc Rivers said Redick has “looked good” while doing some running and shooting, but wasn’t quite ready to play in New Orleans. … Rivers said Jordan was fortunate to have been uninjured in a car accident before the Clippers’ departure for New Orleans on Tuesday. He then joked that he still fined Jordan for being late and also fined Paul, who picked Jordan up from the accident scene. Rivers added that he’s been in the NBA so long that when he hears a player is going to be late because of a traffic accident, he’s inclined to believe it’s a made-up excuse, but added that Jordan had photos to prove it.

Pelicans: With Davis starting at center, New Orleans’ pair of 7-footers, Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca, spent the whole game on the bench. When Davis rested, Terrence Jones moved from forward to center and Dante Cunningham was at power forward instead of the wing. … The Pelicans are now 3-1 on their five-game homestand that began last week.


Clippers: Visit Houston on Friday.

Pelicans: Host New York on Friday.

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