NEW ORLEANS — Tyreke Evans scored a career-high 41 points to go with nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans snapped an eight-game skid by shocking the playoff-bound Thunder 101-89 on Monday night.
Evans made 14 of 26 shots while scoring mostly on quick, powerful bursts to the hoop. He also scored 12 points at the foul line and made a 3 that put the Pelicans ahead 90-82 with 4:21 left.
Kevin Durant scored 25 for the Thunder, who have lost two straight and won’t lock up the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs without at least one more win or a Los Angeles Clippers loss.
With Oklahoma City having played in Indiana on Sunday, coach Scott Brooks chose to rest point guard Russell Westbrook, starting Reggie Jackson in his place.
Jackson, however, was not a factor on offense for much of the game, finishing with four points and three assists.
Oklahoma could hardly complain about being short-handed, though. With all five early season starters and its best scorer off the bench out for the season, New Orleans’ one regular point guard was among 10 players in uniform.
That was Austin Rivers, who was ejected, along with the Thunder’s Nick Collison, after the pair got into a scuffle with 7:56 left in the second quarter.
Evans, normally a shooting guard, took over at point guard after that and went on to score 37 of his points.
Luke Babbit scored 12 points, hitting a late 3 to help seal New Orleans’ first victory over the Thunder in 11 meetings, dating to Jan. 24, 2011. Darius Miller and Alexis Ajinca each had 10 points
Serge Ibaka had 22 points and 16 rebounds for Oklahoma City. Caron Butler added 19 points on 6 of 9 shooting, but after making six of his first seven shots, he did not score in the fourth quarter and his turnover led to Evans’ driving layup, which put New Orleans ahead by 10 with 2:16 to go.