Anthony Davis scored 32 points, collected 12 rebounds, blocked six shots and dished out three assists Friday night as the New Orleans Pelicans put away the visiting Los Angeles Lakers in convincing fashion, 96-85.
Davis was all over the floor, blocking shots on one end and beating everyone on the run to turn them into points on the other. He shut down Lakers big man Pau Gasol, and rallied the team and the crowd in the fourth quarter, orchestrating a run that started with a huge dunk with 6:09 to play, and an alley-oop from Jrue Holiday just 39 seconds later that rocked the surging, veteran Lakers back on their heels and kept them at bay.
It’s the first time the Pelicans have won against the Lakers in quite a while — they lost the previous 11 straight to the perennial powerhouse from Los Angeles. The Lakers were of course playing without future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant, who is still recovering from surgery on a torn Achilles tendon.
“Our guys obviously played with a lot of focus” on defense, said Pelicans Head Coach Monty Williams after the game. “They played hard, for sure. We’re talking about a team in the Lakers that can shoot the ball as well as anybody in the NBA. And so, if we can compete like that and hold them to six threes made, that’s just effort to me. I’d love to say it’s a bunch of schemes and all that, but our guys just played hard.”
The Lakers came into the game as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league.
Jrue Holiday, the offseason All-Star pickup from Philly, also recorded a double-double, putting up 13 points and 13 assists, plus five rebounds and four steals. Williams gave Holiday a lot of the credit for maintaining the team’s tempo coming out in the third quarter, when they started to slip against the more seasoned L.A. team.
“We came out in the third and didn’t have it offensively but we still played hard, and I thought Jrue set the tone, the way he was all over the ball,” said WIlliams.
This was the Pelicans’ first win at home this season, and their first home win ever as the rebranded franchise. And unlike many Lakers games in the past, when the fans in L.A. gold outnumbered the home crowd many times over, tonight nearly all the cheers were for the Pelicans, and for budding superstar Davis.
“I got a lot of easy dunks in transition,” Davis said after the game, perhaps a bit too modestly.. “That’s something we’ve got to continue to do.”
For someone averaging 23 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.3 blocks and 2 steals in each of his six games so far this season, continuing to rack up those easy dunks doesn’t seem like it’ll be a problem.