Pelicans standing tall, visit Hawks
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ATLANTA -- The New Orleans Pelicans try for their first four-game winning streak of the season as they face the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night at Philips Arena to start a stretch against four teams with losing records.
With Anthony Davis turning in his second straight banner game, the Pelicans, fighting for a Western Conference playoff berth, defeated the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics 116-113 in overtime at Boston on Tuesday.
Davis had 45 points and 16 rebounds after scoring 48 points and pulling down 17 rebounds in a 123-118 overtime victory at the New York Knicks on Sunday.
The Pelicans (23-20) have won three straight games for the fourth time this season and get an opportunity to build momentum with what appears to be a break in their schedule upcoming.
The Pelicans have home games against Memphis and Chicago after concluding their three-game trip in Atlanta. Then they play at Charlotte before facing Houston in New Orleans.
The Pelicans, though, have lost seven times this season to teams with losing records.
Atlanta's 12 victories are the fewest in the NBA, but the Hawks are coming off a 102-99 defeat of the San Antonio Spurs on Monday and are 8-12 at home, including 4-3 against Western Conference teams.
Atlanta also played the Pelicans tough in New Orleans on Nov. 13, losing 106-105 after leading by as many as 14 points.
Playing close games has been the norm for the Hawks (12-31). In all except 12 of their 43 games, they have been within at least one possession at some point in the fourth quarter.
Reserve guard Darius Miller did in the Hawks at New Orleans, hitting four 3-pointers while scoring 14 of his career-high 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Miller spent much of the past two seasons playing in Germany before Pelicans general manager Dell Demps gave him a second shot in New Orleans, hoping his role as a go-to scorer in Europe would translate to timely scoring back in the NBA.
"I feel like I'm finally getting into a shooting rhythm," Miller said after the November game. "This is the best league in the world. To perform here, it feels really good."
Of course, the big challenge for the Hawks and any team against New Orleans is minimizing the damage administered by forward Davis and center DeMarcus Cousins, the highest-scoring duo in the NBA at a combined 52.2 points per game.
The Hawks, short-handed inside most of the season, will at least have a full quota of frontcourt players to combat Davis and Cousins.
Dewayne Dedmon, who missed 19 games because of a tibia stress reaction in his left leg, returned last week and is splitting time at center with Miles Plumlee as he builds his minutes back up.
"He's still on a little bit of a restriction. We still want to be cautious and make sure that he's working his way back," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I have to have the discipline to not put him out there more."
Dedmon played nearly 26 minutes against San Antonio, the most since his return four games earlier, and contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds.
"The way he has developed this year has been great," Budenholzer said of the 7-foot free-agent signee. "He's been better than I anticipated."
The game with the Pelicans is the third of a six-game homestand for the Hawks and they are on the road for only one game before playing three more at home to end January.
Updated January 17, 2018