NEW YORK — Over the past four nights, the New Orleans Pelicans have managed to bring a state of euphoria to Philadelphia and New York, sandwiched between some personal satisfaction.
Coming off a last-second, hard-fought victory over Toronto on Sunday afternoon, the Pelicans appeared to have enough momentum to post consecutive victories for the first time since Dec. 16-18, when they entered Madison Square Garden on Monday night to face the hapless New York Knicks, who had lost 16 straight games.
But the Pelicans remained without starters Anthony Davis (sprained left toe) and Jrue Holiday (inflammed right ankle). Davis missed his third straight game, and Holiday was out for his fourth.
But much like Philadelphia did Friday, the Knicks were the aggressors from the opening tap and outworked the Pelicans to the finish to gain a 99-92 victory. The defeat gave the Pelicans a 2-3 record on their Eastern Conference road trip, but their last two losses in that stretch were to the Sixers and Knicks, who entered with a combined 12 wins. New York won for the first time since Dec. 12.
Trailing since the opening quarter, the Pelicans still had a chance to salvage the game late when Tyreke Evans’ driving, one-handed layup brought them within 93-92 with 2:13 left.
After Eric Gordon missed a 10-foot jumper and Ryan Anderson failed to connect on a 3-pointer from the corner, the Knicks sealed the win when Jose Calderon was left wide open off a double team of Carmelo Anthony and he drilled a long, 3-pointer from the corner with 32.7 seconds left.
Anthony finished with a game-high 24 points, and former Christian Life Academy standout Langston Galloway added a career-high 21. The Knicks also got a spark from Amar’e Stoudemire and Jason Smith, who both hit key shots in the second half and finished with 14 and 11 points.
Evans, who led the team with 26 points in Toronto on Sunday, paced the Pelicans again with a team-high 23 points, and Gordon added 20. Omer Asik had a workmanlike 11 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.
“We fell behind in the first quarter, and it was tough for us all night to get it back,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “Down the stretch, we were just trying to make a play, and the plays we made (Sunday) night, we didn’t make tonight.
“We weren’t thinking about (the Knicks’ losing streak). We wanted to win the game and go home with a 3-2 record. Tyreke and Eric battled all night, and Asik has a big game with 17 boards. We had a miscommunication on Carmelo coming off the screen, and (Calderon) gets a wide-open shot. That didn’t put a dagger in it, but it pushed it a little.”
Gordon said he believed his team could have hit some crucial shots in the final minutes.
“We tried to make the best play possible and attack the rim, but the ball just didn’t fall for us,” he said. “They were attacking the rim and drawing fouls at the end of the game. We really wanted this game after having such a good game last night.”
Notes: The Pelicans return to the Smoothie King Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday to host the Los Angeles Lakers. … Quincy Pondexter had 11 points off the bench for the Pelicans. … New York had a 1-19 record against Western Conference opponents coming into the game, and the Pelicans countered with a 5-18 road record.