Magic rally, but fail to complete comeback against Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis soared to the rim, the ball held high above his head in his outstretched right hand.
Orlando’s Glen Davis tried to get in the way, only to be driven back into the padding under the basket as the Pelicans’ forward slammed home a windmill jam.
New Orleans’ 20-year-old star took a triumphant stride over the baseline and glared intensely at the crazed crowd, his arms stiff at his side. The play gave New Orleans an eight-point lead with 1:24 left, punctuating a memorable all-around performance that lifted the Pelicans to a 100-92 victory over the Magic on Sunday night.
"I just decided to go up strong, try to dunk it," Davis said. "That just energized the crowd, kind of deflated (Orlando) a little bit and got us going. That was a big play. That’s what we needed."
Davis finished with 22 points, a career-high 19 rebounds and seven blocked shots. It marked the first time since the franchise was founded as the Charlotte Hornets in 1988 that a player on the club had that many points, rebounds and blocks in the same game.
"His ability to finish in traffic and over top of defenders is second to none," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "When the moment was there tonight, he took over and that’s what All-Stars do."
It isn’t certain Davis will be on the Western Conference squad when New Orleans hosts the NBA All-Star game Feb. 16. He wasn’t voted in by fans as a starter, but could be selected by coaches as a reserve.
"I’m not really worried about that. I’m worried about winning," Davis said. "We know we’re not where we want to be record-wise. That’s what we’ve got to focus on, what I’ve got to focus on. … If it happens, it happens, but I’m trying to get more wins for the team."
Davis may very well get a vote from Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, who expressed concerns about containing Davis before the game, then saw his fears realized.
"I prefer not to be proven correct," Vaughn said. "He’s a great talent. … He was trouble for us throughout the course of the night."
Davis had seven of his rebounds on the offensive end, part of the reason New Orleans had 14 second-chance points.
"We’ve slowed him down before on the offensive glass, but tonight, he had his way with us," Magic forward Kyle O’Quinn said.
Tyreke Evans scored 13 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to help ensure New Orleans’ first back-to-back wins in nearly a month.
Led by Arron Afflalo’s 25 points, the Magic twice got as close as three points late in the fourth quarter, the last time on Tobias Harris’ runner with 4:26 to go.
Victor Oladipo 18 points and five steals for Orlando, while Harris added 17 points and nine rebounds and Jameer Nelson scored 15 points.
Brian Roberts had 15 points and Eric Gordon 14 for the Pelicans.
Orlando outshot New Orleans 46.8 percent (36 of 77) to 45.7 percent (37 of 81), but New Orleans outscored Orlando at the foul line, 21-15, and outrebounded the Magic 48-32. New Orleans also converted 17 Magic turnovers into 30 points.
The Magic, who have lost 13 of 15 games, never led during the final three quarters, but kept it close much of the second half.
New Orleans led 62-58 after a 6-0 Magic spurt during which Oladipo hit two free throws, converted a steal from Gordon into a fast-break dunk, then stole the ball from Roberts to set up Afflalo’s layup.
Gordon halted the surge with a step-back jumper from 19 feet, and Anthony Davis’ two-handed jam capped an 11-2 run that put the Pelicans back up by 13.
Orlando closed the third quarter with Afflalo’s 3 and two layups by Nelson, and cut New Orleans’ lead to 75-71 on E’Tauwn Moore’s floater to open the fourth quarter.
Evans responded with a reverse layup as he was fouled, and scored all 10 Pelicans points through the first 6:33 of the final period to help New Orleans maintain a slim lead.
"Whenever they got close, I just thought I had to take over and try to get to the basket," Evans said.
Evans also fed Davis for an alley-oop jam that made it 94-88.
New Orleans started fast, erasing its final deficit of the game on Darius Miller’s 3-pointer late in the first period. When Miller hit his second 3 in the second quarter, it capped a 22-6 run that put New Orleans up 38-23, and New Orleans led 54-44 at halftime.
NOTES: The Pelicans’ reserves outscored the Magic’s reserves 42-8. … Orlando lost its eighth straight on the road, where the Magic is now 3-18.