Davis stays hot, lifts Pelicans past Bulls
(AP) — Anthony Davis isn’t saying if he feels snubbed by being left off the All-Star roster. He’s making his statement on the court.
Davis continued his torrid play by scoring 24 points and grabbing eight rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to an 88-79 victory over Chicago on Saturday night.
He also blocked six shots, bringing his total to 21 in his past three games. For the third consecutive game he scored at least 22 points and blocked six shots. The Pelicans said he is the first player to do that since November 1990, when Patrick Ewing did it in four consecutive games for the New York Knicks.
“I’m not trying to prove anything,” said Davis, who set a franchise record with at least four blocked shots in six consecutive games. “Everybody knows what I can do and what I’m capable of. Stuff happens and I can’t control that.”
Davis punctuated his performance with a monster jam early in the third quarter, an effort worthy of the Slam Dunk Contest that will be held as part of All-Star weekend in New Orleans. He played Saturday nursing a finger injury that kept him out of one game.
While Davis didn’t want to address the All-Star game snub, Pelicans coach Monty Williams wasn’t so reluctant.
“You want to be recognized as one of the best,” Williams said. “When you play as well as he has, he can say what he wants. He wants it. We all know he deserves it.”
Tyreke Evans added 11 points for the Pelicans, who have won four of their past five.
D.J. Augustin led the Bulls with 23 points in his return to his hometown. He was 8 of 17 from the field and handed out seven assists.
Taj Gibson added 17 points and Joakim Noah had 14 points and 16 rebounds for Chicago. Noah has 10 or more rebounds in 18 straight games, the longest streak of his career.
Carlos Boozer was held to four points, tying his lowest point total of the year. He had scored in double figures in his past 12 games.
“I think (family and friends in attendance) will be happy for me, but I’m not happy that we didn’t get the win,” said Augustin, who attended a local high school until Hurricane Katrina forced him to finish his senior year in Texas. “I’m just going to be happy to see them and give them a hug and a kiss.”
Davis’ dominance effectively shut down the middle for the cold-shooting Bulls, forcing them to rely on their outside offensive and creating fast-break opportunities for the Pelicans. Chicago shot 38.6 percent from the field, making 27 of 70 attempts.
The Bulls were 3 of 16 on 3-point attempts and 22 of 33 on free throw attempts. They also committed 17 turnovers.
“We were coming from behind most of the time,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We got away from the basket in the missed free throws and we just turned the ball over. “
The Pelicans dominated in the paint, outscoring the Bulls 50-34.
New Orleans led 50-39 at the half and 71-57 after three quarters. The Pelicans led by as many as 16 in the fourth quarter and maintained a double-digit lead until the final minute. The Bulls were held to 18 points in each of the second and third quarters.
“We went out there and played really tough,” Pelicans center Jeff Withey said. “They’re a great team and they’re physical. We matched their physicality. We just made it really hard to score.”
The Pelicans raced to a 50-39 halftime lead behind Davis’ nine points and three rebounds. Augustin scored 17 points in the half on 5-of-8 shooting, but as a team Chicago was 12 of 31, including 2 of 7 on 3-pointers.
The Pelicans outscored Chicago 10-2 on fast-break points and 26-12 in the paint.
The Pelicans took control in the opening minutes of the second quarter, going on a 12-2 run to take a 35-23 lead with 7:20 remaining. At one point Chicago committed three of its seven first-half turnovers on consecutive possessions, which New Orleans turned into seven unanswered points. The Pelicans led by 13 on three occasions.
Eric Gordon scored the Pelicans’ first seven points but failed to score the rest of the half and finished with nine points on 4-of-15 shooting.
NOTES: Players wore red-and-white warm-up shirts in honor of Black History Month, which is celebrated during February. ... Davis ended January with 51 blocks, more than three teams had combined. Davis sat out the Pelicans last game with a finger injury. ... The Pelicans blocked 14 shots and have blocked at least 10 shots in three of their past four games.