He turned it up after halftime and looked like his usual dominant self.
Cousins had 25 points and 11 rebounds — 18 and seven in the second half — to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 96-90 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls.
“I struggled early on, but that being said, you just got to out and find other ways to have an impact on the game,” said Cousins, who was averaging 29 points and 14 rebounds. “That’s what I tried to do. It was a great team effort all around. We pulled out an ugly, gritty win.”
Anthony Davis had 27 points and 16 rebounds to help the Pelicans snap a six-game, regular-season losing streak to the Bulls.
Jameer Nelson added 13 points, Darius Miller had 11, and Jrue Holiday 10 for New Orleans. The Pelicans improved to 4-2 on the road.
Justin Holiday had 18 points, Denzel Valentine added 16 and Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez had 14 apiece for the Bulls. They were coming off their first road victory.
Both teams looked sluggish completing their first back-to-backs of the season. The Bulls shot 35.4 percent from the field to the Pelicans’ 40.2 percent.
“We were like playing in mud,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “It was a struggle we couldn’t seem to get ourselves going but we found a way. At the end of the day, I told the guys, `You just got to find a way to win on the road.”
Cousins made two of three foul shots for a 91-86 lead with 2:35 left in overtime before Nelson hit a 3 for a 96-88 lead with 48.9 seconds remaining.
Davis rebounded Lopez’s putback attempt with 9.7 seconds remaining in regulation. Holiday missed at the other end with 4 to go before Cousins blocked Lopez to send the game to overtime.
“He made a great play,” Lopez said of Jerian Grant’s pass to him. “I missed two shots. It’s frustrating.”
The Pelicans opened the final quarter on a 20-7 run to take a 77-71 lead.
Justin Holiday scored 10 points in the third quarter for the Bulls, who led by as much as nine and 64-57 after the period.
“I feel like they’re better than their record shows,” Cousins said about the Bulls. “They’re probably top-three hardest-playing teams in the league at this point.”
The Pelicans shot 40.5 percent from the field to the Bulls’ 31.9 percent in the first half of a tied game.
“We’re going to have nights like this on the offensive end,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We had a few of them this year. If we can battle like that defensively, we’re going to have a chance most nights.”
Bulls forward Bobby Portis’ eight-game suspension ended Saturday. Hoiberg refrained from saying whether Portis will play Tuesday at Toronto. Portis was suspended Oct. 18 due to injuring teammate Nikola Mirotic in a fight at practice.
Mirotic suffered broken bones in his face and a concussion and is expected to miss four to six weeks. He has been working out, but has yet to get on the court, Hoiberg said. “The important thing is he’s making progress and is in good spirits,” Hoiberg said.
A LOT OF TIME
Cousins played more than 43 minutes and Davis over 41 as the Pelicans rely on their two bigs.
“It is kind of a catch-22,” Gentry said. “Do you take them out or do you try to win games and then try to find rest for them?”
Pelicans: New Orleans split two preseason games against the Bulls. … Cousins and Davis are the only teammates among the league’s top five scorers.
Bulls: G David Nwaba exited with a right ankle sprain with 5:17 remaining in the third quarter. He had seven points and four rebounds. … Brothers Jrue Holiday (New Orleans) and Justin Holiday (Chicago) both started. … Markkanen added to his NBA record with his eighth straight game of at least two 3-pointers to start his career.
Pelicans: At Indiana on Tuesday night.
Bulls: At Toronto on Tuesday night.