MILWAUKEE (AP) — New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry wasn’t about to worry about his team’s flaws after its first victory of the season.
Anthony Davis hit a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left and scored 32 points, and the Pelicans ended their winless start after eight games by beating the Milwaukee Bucks 112-106 on Thursday night.
“Are you kidding me, we were 0-8 and fighting for our lives,” Gentry said. “Everything that we’ve done in some kind of way had gone bad.
“To be able to finish the game and come away with a win, it’s relief,” he said. “We’re not going to say it was just another game.”
The Philadelphia 76ers (0-7) are the remaining winless team in the NBA.
“We’ve been working hard and playing our butts off, and tonight we just got one,” Davis said. “We needed everyone tonight to get this win.”
Jabari Parker scored a season-high 33 points for Milwaukee, which lost its second straight game to a team that was winless. In their last game Sunday, the Bucks fell 86-75 in overtime to Dallas, which was 0-5 coming into that game.
“We were in this situation in Dallas,” Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said. “They hadn’t won a game either and they were desperate. New Orleans was desperate, and they found a way to win a game.”
E'Twaun Moore added 20 points for New Orleans, playing its third game in four nights.
Milwaukee used a late 9-4 run to pull within 108-105 on Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s three-point play with 40 seconds to go.
Matthew Dellavedova made a free throw to cut the New Orleans lead to 108-106, but Davis converted both free throws to make it a two-possession game.
Mirza Teletovic missed a running 3-point attempt with 6 seconds left, and Tim Frazier hit a pair of free throws to close the scoring.
Frazier had 15 points, 10 assists and five rebounds for New Orleans. Four of the Pelicans starters scored in double figures.
Pelicans: F Cheick Diallo was sent to the Austin Spurs of the NBA Developmental League. Diallo was the 33rd overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. … New Orleans led the entire second half.
Bucks: The first steel column went up this week during construction of the team’s new arena. … Parker made 13 of 26 shots, including a thunderous dunk on a pass from Dellavedova in the third quarter. … Dellavedova had 12 assists, one shy of his career high. … Starting C Miles Plumlee played 11 minutes, all in the first half, and all three of his shots were blocked by Davis.
The Pelicans have had trouble making free throws this year at 73 percent coming into the game, but made 25 of 27 against the Bucks. “We’ve had close losses and have missed 13 foul shots (in a game) and 12 foul shots,” Gentry said. “In those situations, you can’t afford to do that. Tonight, we stepped to the line and shot them great.”
Antetokounmpo had 17 points, 10 rebounds and one assist in 35 minutes, his second double-double of the season. He picked up two early fouls against Dallas on Sunday and never got into a rhythm, and was charged with his fifth foul with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter against the Pelicans. He didn’t return until there was 2:40 left in the game and was unable to rally his team to victory.
A TYPICAL ROOKIE
Through the Pelicans’ first nine games, Buddy Hield was averaging nine points, making only 33 of his first 96 shots (34 percent). Gentry calls Hield, the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, “a typical rookie. He’s trying to feel his way. He’s had some good games for us and he’s had some struggles.”