It was only a few days ago that the New Orleans Pelicans entered the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead, only to be dominated by the visiting San Antonio Spurs in the final quarter of a disappointing loss.

The Pelicans seemingly took with them some pointers on closing out games from that outing on Monday.

Having been put in a similar situation as the Spurs, the Pelicans turned up their defensive pressure in the fourth quarter and came away with an improbable 98-91 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night before an announced crowd of 16,541 at the Smoothie King Center.

“Our first half we went slow,” Pelicans guard Austin Rivers said. “We just weren’t there mentally. We brought the energy that we needed in the second half. Everyone on this team contributed to tonight’s win. ”

Trailing 71-61 entering the fourth quarter, the Pelicans (22-27) outscored the Timberwolves 37-20 in the final quarter to win for the sixth time in their last eight games.

The victory snapped a four-game losing streak against the Timberwolves (24-26). It also was the Pelicans’ first win of the season against the Timberwolves, who had beaten New Orleans in the first two games of the season.

“In the fourth quarter, to hold that team to 20 points and 37 from the field … that’s a big game for us,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “Coach Randy (Ayers, a Pelicans assistant) deserves so much credit. He’s been so meticulous with our defense lately, almost to a point of ticking our guys off. He’s pushing them to the right spots and how to make plays. We had so many guys step up tonight, making plays, hitting shots and getting big rebounds. It’s just good to get a win against that team. I think they’ve beaten us four in a row. The way we beat them with our defense was really cool.”

Anthony Davis, who was selected as an injury replacement for the All-Star Game, lead the Pelicans with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Eric Gordon added 20 points, while Brian Roberts scored 16 and had a game-clinching jumper with 22.9 seconds remaining.
Davis, who had just three rebounds through the first three quarters, came up big on the boards in the decisive fourth, as he grabbed seven rebounds in the final quarter.

“Today has been great,” Davis said. “I’m going to enjoy it while it can. We have a game against Brooklyn coming up so I can’t get too happy, but at the same time I have to enjoy it.”
Williams agreed.

“It’s a great way for him to cap the day off,” Williams said. “To be selected for the All Star game in the afternoon and to play like that on national TV and in front of the world, that’s pretty cool. It’s a lot for a twenty year old. He’s just starting to scratch the surface on what he can do. That’s just him. I’d love to take credit for all that. He has the ability to rebound in his area and outside his area. He’s always trying to block shots. To get those boards against Kevin Love, the best rebounder in the league, that’s just A.D.”

Kevin Love scored 26 points and had 19 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves.

But the Pelicans defense was relentless, allowing Minnesota to shoot just 37.3 percent from the field, including 22.2 percent from 3-point range.

Davis played exceptionally well on the offensive end in the first half, scoring 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. But still the Pelicans trailed 47-42 at halftime.

The Timberwolves were able to build a lead as big as nine points in the first half because the Pelicans had trouble limiting Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin and Love, who combined to score 32 first half points.