The Pelicans gave away a 20-point halftime lead in Brooklyn on Saturday but survived with a 138-128 double-overtime victory. Anthony Davis carried them with 44 points, 17 rebounds, six steals and three blocks in 49 workhorse minutes.
"You know they live by the 3, die by the 3. They were missing a lot and then they were able to get hot, especially Allen Crabbe, so that's how they get back in the game," Davis said of the Nets, who trailed by 28 points. "Had to keep fighting, keep doing what we did to get the lead."
New Orleans (29-26) needs every win it can collect to capture a lower seed in the Western Conference playoffs. It lost to Minnesota, Utah and Philadelphia before its visit to New York City.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry wants to see him team play more aggressively from start to finish.
"I think the only thing we did was we got a little cautious when we got up. We stopped running," he said. "We stopped pushing the basketball and attacking and played too conservative. Our whole deal is that we decided that we are going to be a team that attacks the basketball, pushes the basketball, and gets into the open floor."
Power forward Nikola Mirotic is averaging 14 points and 9.0 rebounds in four games since he was acquired from Chicago. He had 21 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks in the marathon against the Nets.
"Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic were really good in the screen-and-roll," Gentry said. "I thought they did a good job on the switches and keeping the guards in front of them. Even when Brooklyn drove to the basket, they made it really hard for them to finish."
The Pelicans can sweep the season series against the Pistons. New Orleans won on its home floor 112-109 on Jan. 8 with Davis scoring 30 points despite exiting in the third quarter with an ankle injury.
The Pistons (27-28) lost on the road to lottery-bound Atlanta 118-115 on Sunday afternoon. Detroit has now dropped two straight after a five-game winning streak.
"It's tough to give up 118 and try to win on the road or in general," power forward Blake Griffin said. "So we have to be better defensively -- good rotations and all that. At times, we were pretty good."
Griffin scored 23 points, but that total was misleading. He made only one-third of his 21 shots from the field.
"I'm getting the shots that I want," he said. "I'm just missing them."
Point guard Jameer Nelson and small forward James Ennis III made their Pistons debuts after being acquired at Thursday's trade deadline. Nelson had six points and five assists in 18 minutes. Ennis posted 14 points, four rebounds and two steals in 23 minutes.
"I thought the new guys played well, and if you look at the plus-minus, that wasn't the problem," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It was our starters."