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Graham’s 3-point barrage offsets Holiday’s career night in Pelicans’ 116-112 win over Bucks

Devonte’ stays hot from behind the arc

Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

It took overtime, but the New Orleans Pelicans won for the third time in their last four games, knocking off the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, 116-112.

Devonte’ Graham led five Pelicans in double figures with a season-high 26 points, with 17 of those coming in the fourth quarter and overtime period.

Jonas Valanciunas was right behind Graham with 24 points on 11-15 shooting, while Brandon Ingram filled the box with 22 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals.

Though he wasn’t messing around, Josh Hart did flirt with a triple-double. Hart had 11 points, a season-high 15 rebounds, and eight assists.

Herb Jones came up one rebound shy of his first double-double, amassing 17 points, nine boards, four assists, a steal and a blocked shot.

The team effort was just enough to overcome a career night by former Pelicans star Jrue Holiday. Holiday scored a career-high 40 points to go along with five boards and five assists.

But, the night and the game belonged to Graham and the Pels.

Coming off his game-winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Graham continued his December resurgence.

After struggling through the month of November, when he made only 2.4 threes per game on 33.3 percent shooting, Graham is shooting almost 42 percent from beyond the arc this month and making nearly four triples each night.

“{Willie Green} had a talk with me the other day just about being aggressive, looking for my shot more,” Graham said in postgame. “Obviously, I was struggling. The ball wasn’t going in, so I was playing a little frustrated. I told him I was a little frustrated, but that was just personal stuff. He told me to keep letting it fly, so that’s what I’m doing.”

With the score tied at 77 entering the fourth quarter, Milwaukee quickly took a five-point lead to open the frame.

Graham responded with back-to-back triples to put the Pelicans back in front, starting an ebb and flow that would continue throughout the quarter.

New Orleans led by six points at the midway point before Holiday began chipping away. Jrue scored six straight for the Bucks to bring Milwaukee within two, 95-97, with just under four minutes to play.

Again, it would be Graham coming up big with two more from deep, this time putting New Orleans up by two late.

Clinging to that lead, the Pelicans were unable to keep Jrue out of the paint as he bullied his way to the bucket for a tying score that sent the game into OT.

The duel continued into overtime, as Holiday scored six of Milwaukee’s nine points and Graham added five of his own.

Graham got by with a little help from his friends though, as the rest of the squad came up with eight.

When the clock expired, New Orleans had earned consecutive wins at home for the first time since Nov. 13 and Nov. 19, and back-to-back wins of any kind for only the second time this season.

Yes, the Pelicans have played Oklahoma City and Milwaukee while both were missing key contributors, but that’s been the case for the Pelicans all season.

The NBA is a merciless league, and winning on any night isn’t to be dismissed.

For the Pelicans, any and every victory is meaningful as the team attempts to build on it’s most competitive stretch of basketball this season.

Next up, the Philadelphia 76ers, who knocked off the Pels on opening night. The Sixers have been inconsistent all season, sitting at 15-15, good for eighth in the Eastern Conference standings.

In just a week, New Orleans has climbed out of the cellar in the West, pulling to within three games of the 10th spot. A modest winning streak could put New Orleans back into a legitimate chase for the play-in no matter how long Zion Williamson remains sidelined.

Willie Green’s message is getting though. The Pelicans have their holes on the roster, and won’t be mistaken for a championship contender anytime soon, but they are showing better cohesion, teamwork, and competitive fire.

That’s a significant start.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @DMGrubb.