NEW ORLEANS – The Pelicans were good. The Lakers were bad. Anthony Davis was amazing.
In the Pelicans’ 105-88 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Smoothie King Center Tuesday night, Davis had 41 points and 16 rebounds; his fourth 40-point effort, his 13th game with at least 30 points, and his 11th double-double.
These types of efforts have become routine for Davis, but it never gets old to those around him.
“Anthony Davis had a good night,” said Buddy Hield in a tremendous understatement. “Everybody is having fun and AD is making plays. Just watching him make moves is incredible.”
“I don’t take anything (Davis) does for granted,” said Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry. “He is a really special player. He’s a player you get to coach once in a lifetime. I appreciate who he is. I appreciate what he is. I appreciate the greatness that he has. I appreciate the fact that he has the utmost respect for his teammates. To me, that’s what a superstar is.”
For Davis, one of the league’s most low-key superstars, it was another day at the office. Fortunately, it was a good one as the Pelicans snapped their two-game losing streak and won their fifth straight home game.
“I’m just trying to protect home floor,” said Davis. “When I come out aggressive, the whole team seems to come out and be aggressive. So, that’s what I try to do, either make plays for myself or for my teammates.”
It was also a bit of revenge for a 126-99 shellacking the Lakers handed New Orleans back on Nov. 12, with the Pels’ producing a 38-point swing on the defensive end.
“The defensive performances the last few games at home have been very, very good,” said Terrence Jones. “Just to lock in and make sure everybody stays mentally focused on getting stops like we did tonight is always going to make the game easier.”
The Pelicans came out of the gate, led by Davis. New Orleans shot 52 percent in the opening quarter, with all five starters making it into the books. Davis picked up 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the first 12 minutes as the Pels took a 33-22 lead.
Adding seven points and six rebounds to his totals in the second quarter, Davis had a double-double by halftime with 20 points and 10 boards. He also got plenty of support from his teammates as Omer Asik nearly had a double-double of his own in the first half with eight points and nine rebounds. Jrue Holiday, starting for the first time this season, scored 12 of his 22 points before the break, and Langston Galloway came off the bench to score eight points.
New Orleans played its most complete half of the season, taking a 65-41 advantage into the locker room.
“I thought we started the game the right way and I thought we played with energy,” said Gentry. “We had the ball movement that I thought we needed in the first half. We ended up with 15 assists in the first half, so when that happens, we’re a pretty good team.”
“Today I think I tried to come out aggressive,” added Holiday. “To me, aggressive is passing, getting people the ball where they want it. Today they left Omer open so I tried to find him early, from there just get AD the ball.”
That’s exactly what the Pelicans did in the third quarter. Davis scored 15 points in the third, using his full array of moves and skills. He knocked down mid-range jump shots, he drove to the basket and he added a three-pointer from the top of the key for good measure. AD had 35 points through three quarters and New Orleans held a 26-point lead.
The Pelicans cruised the rest of the way, as the Lakers would win the quarter 25-16. But the damage had been done, and Davis added six more points to his tally and completing his virtuoso performance. Without question, he’s playing as well as anyone in the NBA right now. In Davis’ mind, he can’t be stopped.
“I just feel like I can get to wherever I want on the floor,” he said. “I put in so much work to try to better myself as a basketball player, when I’m on the floor I feel like no one can stop me.”
New Orleans has been blessed to witness some tremendous basketball talents, Hall of Famer “Pistol” Pete Maravich and future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul are among them. But Davis is in a class by himself. Pelicans fans should appreciate what they have, because players like this don’t come along very often. Win or lose, Anthony Davis is worth the price of admission.
The Pelicans will face Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers this Friday at the Smoothie King Center. Game time is set for 7:00 pm.