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                  === Evans carries Pelicans past Thunder ===
 
 New  Orleans,  LA (SportsNetwork.com)  - Tyreke Evans  stuffed the stat sheet,
 pouring  in 41  points, nine  rebounds and  eight assists  in the  New Orleans
 Pelicans' surprising 101-89 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.
 
 Evans  shot 14-of-26 from  the field and 12-of-16 from the free-throw line for
 New  Orleans,  which had  lost eight  straight games.  Luke Babbitt donated 12
 points  off the  bench, while Darius Miller  and Alexis  Ajinca had  10 points
 apiece.
 
 Kevin  Durant  and Serge Ibaka  scored 25 and  22 points, respectively, in the
 setback, while the other three Thunder starters combined for just eight points
 on  3-for-17  shooting. With the  playoffs approaching, Russell Westbrook took
 the game off to rest his surgically repaired knee.
 
 "I'm  not making  any excuses,  they  just beat  us," said  Durant. "They  got
 whatever  they wanted at  the offensive end, and it felt like we were just out
 of it."
 
 Oklahoma  City has now blown two opportunities to clinch the No. 2 seed in the
 Western  Conference following Sunday's loss to Indiana. The Thunder need a win
 Wednesday  against  Detroit or a  Clippers' loss in  either of their final two
 games to lock up the two seed.
 
 Despite  playing without six of its seven top scorers, New Orleans found a way
 to  take down  the  playoff-bound  Thunder behind  Evans,  who nearly  matched
 Oklahoma  City's  fourth quarter total  by himself. The Pelicans outscored the
 Thunder, 31-20, in the fourth, with Evans netting 17.
 
 "We've  been  short-handed all year,"  Evans said.  "I wasn't supposed to play
 tonight.  My  knee was  bothering me,  but I knew  we needed  a win bad. Coach
 talked about finishing the season strong. That's what we wanted to do tonight.
 It was a team effort."
 
 New  Orleans  led 70-69  through three quarters,  but it was  tied at 77 after
 Durant's short jumper at 7:34.
 
 Miller's  3-ball restored  the lead for the home team. Anthony Morrow followed
 with  a triple of his own and after the teams traded baskets over the next few
 possessions,  Evans hit  from deep  for  a 90-82  margin with  just over  four
 minutes remaining.
 
 Oklahoma  City  had one final push,  with Durant's 3-pointer with 2:08 to play
 pulling it within seven, but Babbitt countered with a three at the other end.
 
 Earlier,  Pelicans guard  Austin Rivers and Thunder forward Nick Collison were
 both  ejected for  their roles  in an  altercation midway  through the  second
 quarter.
 
 New  Orleans  led  23-21  after  the  first  quarter,  but  trailed  46-45  at
 intermission.
 
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 The  Pelicans had  lost 10  straight in  this series  ... Anthony  Davis (back
 spasms)  and Eric Gordon (knee tendinitis) were inactive and will not play the
 rest  of the season for New Orleans, while Brian Roberts is day-to-day with an
 ankle  injury.  Ryan Anderson, Jrue  Holiday and  Jason Smith had already been
 ruled  out  for the  season ... Ibaka  had 16 rebounds  and a career-high five
 assists ... There were 15 ties and 13 lead changes.
 
 
 04/15 01:39:11 ET

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