Pelicans.com postgame: Pelicans 96, Lakers 85
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
As it went to commercial during one of its TV breaks Friday, Fox Sports New Orleans didn’t even have time to fit in all of the highlights Anthony Davis had just produced over a 60-second span. The network had to come back from the break before it could adequately replay all of what the second-year power forward had just wrought on the Lakers.
In his most eye-opening performance to date of what’s been an extremely impressive first two weeks of 2013-14, Davis amassed a career-high 32 points, tied his best as a pro with six blocks, while also grabbing 12 rebounds. Davis’ dominance spearheaded New Orleans all game, but particularly during a late-game span in which the Pelicans turned a tight contest into a double-digit victory.
Just six days after the University of Kentucky product and 2012 No. 1 overall pick turned in one of the best all-around games by an NBA player you’ll ever see vs. the Bobcats, this time Davis was 12-for-18 from the field, highlighted by five dunks. Several of his slams came immediately after he blocked a shot by the Lakers’ Pau Gasol (3-for-12 from the field), then raced 94 feet to the other end for an easy score.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” said Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday, who registered many of his 13 assists by connecting with the athletic 6-foot-10 power forward. “It’s easy with AD. You’ve just got to throw it somewhere in the vicinity of the basketball court.”
“Anthony was doing a great job running the floor,” center Jason Smith said. “We knew that was a gameplan of ours, really getting out and using our athleticism. He does a great job, offensively and defensively. It’s tough going against him. He’s so long and athletic, plays great defense and has worked so hard in the offseason to build his body up. He’s really playing at a high level now.”
Davis entertained a sellout crowd of 18,209 for virtually the entire 37 minutes he was on the floor, but his excellence was even more dramatic during the fourth quarter. New Orleans held on to a 76-74 lead midway through the period, but over a 4 1/2-minute span, Davis took over. The 20-year-old threw down three dunks, drilled a stepback jumper and converted on a back-breaking conventional three-point play, for 11 points in just 4:36 of game time. Davis’ final points of the evening put the Pelicans in front 95-81 with 1:33 remaining, capping a 19-7 burst.
Voted by general managers in a preseason survey as the player most likely to produce a breakthrough season, Davis has validated that leaguewide confidence by showing staggering improvements over the first six games of 2013-14. He’s leading the Pelicans in a wide range of statistical categories and seems to be making another noticeable leap with each passing week.
“I’d be disappointed in myself if I hadn’t gotten better,” Davis said. “I've been working on certain things and trying to apply it in the game. That's why you work out. That's why you have summer sessions with your coaches and your teammates, to get better. My teammates were doing a great job of getting me open. It was on me to make the shots.”
Davis credited New Orleans’ defense for the victory after holding the Lakers to just 38.8 percent shooting from the field, an accuracy rate damaged by the fact that Davis blocked six of Los Angeles’ 49 misses.
“(The Lakers) were in the game,” Davis said of the fourth-quarter surge that sealed the win for New Orleans. “I just told the team we need to keep fighting defensively, keep getting stops and running. That’s what we did. I got a lot of easy dunks in transition. It's something we need to continue to do."