Anthony Davis 16 points, 8 boards in Rising Stars game
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis called Friday’s BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge the ultimate “non-defensive game,” a fitting description given that the two teams combined for 278 points. In a game featuring the NBA’s promising first- and second-year players, Davis still nearly matched his average in blocked shots this season (a league-leading 3.07), rejecting two attempts.
“We knew the type of game it was going to be,” Davis said after also registering 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. “It was going to be up and down, and guys were going to score. I just tried to block a couple shots and play a little bit of defense, in a non-defensive game.”
Davis started for Team Webber in its 142-136 defeat to Team Hill, drawing the biggest ovation of any player when he was introduced before tip-off.
The 20-year-old, who will be the All-Star Game’s youngest player Sunday evening, dropped in his usual assortment of high-flying dunks, throwing down five slams in an 8-for-14 shooting night. But it was his rare defensive effort that most excited the Smoothie King Center crowd.
Midway through the first half, Davis swatted away a Jonas Valanciunas offering, then raced to the other end six seconds later to throw down an alley oop from Team Webber teammate Victor Oladipo. The Pelicans had just played against Valanciunas’ Raptors just four days earlier, on Monday in Toronto.
“Afterward, (Valanciunas) told me ‘You know what I’m going to do! We just played each other a couple days ago.’ ” Davis said, smiling. “That was good, to get the crowd into it, and our team got kind of hyped. It’s always something fun to do.”
Davis’ second defensive highlight was a block of a Bradley Beal layup. He scored exactly eight points in both halves, mixing in a few long jumpers with some resounding slams. Davis also brought fans to their feet in the second half with a right-handed windmill dunk on a breakaway. Although no one in the audience likely noticed, Davis said the move didn’t go as planned.
“That was probably the worst windmill ever,” Davis said. “I kind of lost my legs, and the ball was kind of real slippery, so I lost that too. I had to force it in. (The windmill) got the crowd into it, but I didn’t really like it. It was something creative to do, instead of something real simple, because that’s what the fans wanted to see.”
Davis’ weekend will continue Saturday with the Western Conference All-Star team’s practice at the Convention Center, followed by Sunday’s All-Star Game. The presence of a hometown Rising Star Friday made what would normally be an indifferent or unbiased crowd Friday heavily supportive of Team Webber. With only 29 seconds left and Team Hill leading by five, a game MC asked the crowd to cheer for which team they thought would win the game. Team Webber still received a much larger applause.
“It was good. Hometown crowd, hometown flavor,” Davis said of the partisan crowd. “They were supporting me. That’s always good to know.”