NEW ORLEANS — Paul Pierce wrapped his left arm around the back of Chris Paul’s head, pulling him close as the pair walked toward the foul line in the final seconds.
With a satisfied grin, Paul hollered a celebratory, "Hey! Hey! Hey!" at his Clippers teammates to punctuate the best road trip in franchise history.
J.J. Redick scored 26 points for a second straight night, Paul closed out a poor shooting performance with pivotal plays in the final minutes, and the Clippers capped an unbeaten five-game trip with a 95-89 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.
"We had every excuse tonight to pack it in," Paul said, noting that his team was tired taking the court for its fifth road game in seven nights. "It just showed a lot of perseverance and we did it together."
Paul missed 15 of his first 17 shots, but hit a 19-foot step-back jumper with a minute to go to give Los Angeles a 90-87 lead.
"I knew sooner or later it’s got to go in," Paul said. "My legs were a little heavy tonight, but the guys on the team kept telling me to stay aggressive, keep shooting and it went down when we needed it."
Before and after that score, Paul assisted on baskets by Jamal Crawford. Paul, who finished with 12 assists, then added three free throws in the final 21 seconds.
"He saw the plays ahead of time. He told me I was going to be open even before I knew," Crawford said of Paul’s late assists. "That’s why he’s the best ‘quarterback’ in the league. He always finds ways, no matter how he’s shooting, to win the game."
DeAndre Jordan had 20 rebounds and 11 points, highlighted by his rim-rattling alley-oop dunk of a hard, no-look pass from Paul. Crawford added 15 points.
Anthony Davis had 14 points and 15 rebounds for New Orleans, and Ryan Anderson scored 17.
"We had great defence. We just didn’t execute at the end," Davis said. "We missed shots and a couple turnovers toward the end. That’s what we’ve got to get better at: Executing down the stretch and making winning plays."
Tyreke Evans had 14 points and nine assists for New Orleans, but went 1 for 7 from 3-point range. Norris Cole scored 15 points.
"It’s frustrating but we’ve got to stay together," Davis said. "We’ve got to try to figure it out. … We put in the work every day to try to get better. We play our (butts) off in the games. It’s just not coming out the way we want."
Trailing by 11 in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans rallied with a 13-2 run that included seven points by Anderson. Jrue Holiday’s putback tied it at 78 with 6:55 to go, setting up a frenetic finish.
The Clippers were due to be in the air, bound for L.A., when the new year arrived. But at least they were together to celebrate a flourish to finish 2015.
"This was a good win for us, especially with this long flight going back," Paul said.
The Clippers, who had never before swept a road trip as long as five games, did it without star power forward Blake Griffin, who did not make the trip because of a torn left quad.
"It’s big for our confidence and our team morale," Paul said. "We’re a much better team with Blake but being able to do this without him gives us a little more confidence."
REDICK’S FAST START
After being among the leading scorers in the Clippers’ victory in Charlotte on Wednesday night, Redick helped the Clippers keep it close early when much of the team looked flat. He scored 13 of Los Angeles’ first 15 points and had 17 in the first half, helping the Clippers take a 50-48 lead by halftime.
"We were dead," Redick said. "We just didn’t have it at the beginning of the game so I just wanted to be aggressive and get us going offensively."
The Clippers shot only 39 per cent (35 of 90) to New Orleans’ 43.9 per cent (36 of 82), but the Pelicans were 7 of 25 from long range and committed 16 turnovers while giving up 24 second-chance points.
Clippers: Paul’s assists gave him 7,212 for his career, one ahead of Lenny Wilkins for 12th in NBA history. … The Clippers improved to 8-0 this season when Redick scores at least 20.
Pelicans: New Orleans fell to 7-7 at home while losing its second straight overall. … Eric Gordon had 10 points but made only 3 of 10 shots.
Clippers: Host Philadelphia on Saturday night.
Pelicans: Visit Dallas on Saturday night.