Just like the Pelicans, reserve guard Norris Cole on Saturday night found a way to bounce back.
Cole recovered from a two-game shooting lapse by scoring 12 points during a 95-89 Pelicans win against Memphis at the Smoothie King Center, utilizing his perimeter touch to keep the Pelicans ahead after a third-quarter rally.
And a solid defensive play in the game’s finals seconds.
It’s the kind of play at point guard the Pelicans need with starting point guard Jrue Holiday sidelined, and the Pelicans pushing for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Cole’s offense during a key stretch — he scored seven in the fourth — allowed him to move past combined 4-for-14 shooting during previous games against Detroit and Boston.
His 3-pointer with 6:14 left pushed the Pelicans to an 82-78 lead.
Two minutes later, he collected a steal, finishing the Pelicans possession with a pull up jumper from about 17 feet. On the Pelicans’ next possession, he added a runner in the lane.
The Pelicans sealed the win on defense, with Cole in the middle of the heroics, defending Memphis guard Mike Conley on a 3-point attempt near the top of the key. Careful not to foul, Cole, now in his fourth NBA season, made sure Conley didn’t release a solid shot; the air ball sailed out of bounds.
“Last night, he struggled in the first half,” said Pelicans coach Monty Williams. “ (Tonight) He was going to the basket, he had a big three, really helped us.
“Defensively, he’s always pretty solid.”
The good news is that Williams said he wasn’t concerned with Cole’s offense, knowing he would bounce back.
On Feb. 19, he Pelicans traded for Cole from Miami along with Shawne Williams, Justin Hamilton and cash considerations. He played his previous three and a half NBA seasons in Miami, averaging 6.2 points and 2.6 assists, winning two NBA championships.