NEW ORLEANS (AP) Anthony Davis has one game left to show why he’s the best player under 21 years old in the NBA.
For the past two games, he’s looked rather good for any age, and has pulled the Pelicans out of a slump.
Davis had 29 points and 14 rebounds and New Orleans defeated Milwaukee 112-104 on Friday night.
Tyreke Evans scored 25 points for the Pelicans, who’ve won two straight after losing their previous eight games.
”It feels good to get back in rhythm, winning some games,” said Davis, who’ll get to celebrate his 21st birthday in the Big Easy on Tuesday. ”We know how that eight-game losing streak is and we don’t want to get back to it, and we’ve got to keep working.”
Davis, who hit 12 of 22 shots on an array of layups, crowd-pleasing dunks and mid-range jumpers, is shooting 58 percent (22 of 38) in his past two games. He had 28 points and 15 rebounds in a victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
The 6-foot-6 Evans, meanwhile, has been thriving since being moved from the bench into the starting lineup in the small forward spot.
He had 24 points against the Lakers and 27 on Monday night in a loss at Sacramento. Being on the floor with Davis, who draws so much attention from opposing defenses, has certainly helped, he said.
”It’s been fun. That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Evans said. ”We both like to play together. We both work hard. To see us both going like that, it just makes things better for our team.”
Anthony Morrow added 16 points for New Orleans, including a 3-pointer as he was fouled to give the Pelicans their largest lead at 100-90 with 4:50 left. Brian Roberts scored 14 and Eric Gordon 12 for New Orleans.
”We let Anthony Morrow get away from us. He made some shots going down the stretch,” Bucks coach Larry Drew said. ”We have a game plan against Davis and Tyreke Evans and Gordon and guys like that. It’s the guys off the bench who end up hurting us.”
Khris Middleton scored 25 for Milwaukee, which lost its second straight. Jeff Adrien added a career-high 20 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Ramon Sessions had 16 points and Brandon Knight 15.
Milwaukee entered the game without starting forward Ersan Ilyasova, suspended for throwing a punch in a game Wednesday. The Bucks then lost guard O.J. Mayo to an ejection for a flagrant-2 foul late in the first quarter. With Ilyasova out, John Henson was thrust into the starting lineup, drawing the assignment of defending Davis.
”He’s tough, man. Just as far as the activity, they run a lot of stuff where they pull out the side on a pick and roll for him,” Henson said. ”He attacks or he shoots the jump shot, and that’s kind of what they got going over there and it really helped to push the lead up to where we couldn’t come back.”
There were 24 lead changes in what turned out to be a highly competitive, action-filled game between a pair of struggling teams.
The Pelicans shot 50 percent (42 of 84) but were unable to build a significant lead because the Bucks shot 45 percent (40 of 89) even without Ilyasova and Mayo, who together average 23 points per game.
Milwaukee led 79-78 after Sessions’ driving layup opened the fourth quarter, but Davis’ driving layup and 15-foot jumper sparked a 10-2 run that put the Pelicans in front for good.
Neither team led by more than five points in the first half, when there were 20 lead changes.
Mayo had taken only one missed shot when he was ejected after less than three minutes on the court.
Mayo collided with Pelicans center Greg Stiemsma, who was setting a screen, then appeared to shove Stiemsma with a flailing arm to the chest. Pelicans coach Monty Williams rushed in to pull Stiemsma away. Officials initially called a flagrant foul, but upgraded the severity to a flagrant-2 after video review.
”I reacted the wrong way and handled it for sure the wrong way,” Mayo said. ”I want to apologize to the Bucks fan base, the city of Milwaukee and obviously New Orleans and the (fans) who came out and watched the game. It’s definitely the wrong way to conduct yourself. I’ve got to be better and I will.”
Still, the Bucks were clinging to a one-point lead before Roberts hit a 5-foot floater as he was fouled for a three-point play, giving New Orleans a 51-49 halftime lead.
NOTES: Davis has now surpassed 20 points and 10 rebounds in a game 21 times this season, and he has 29 double-doubles overall. … Pelicans reserve center Jeff Withey, a rookie, grabbed a career-high eight rebounds in 14:29. … Middleton’s 25 points were more than double his average of 11.7 coming in and four short of his career high.