Davis could return as Pelicans host Kings
NEW ORLEANS — Boogie may be reunited with The Brow on Friday night at the Smoothie King Center.
New Orleans Pelicans announced Thursday that forward Anthony Davis, who has missed the last three games after straining his left adductor — the area of the groin — is listed as questionable going into the matchup against the Sacramento Kings, an upgrade from his out and doubtful status the last two games, respectively.
The Pelicans (13-12) have won two of the three games in Davis’ absence — averaging 120.3 points in those contests — largely because of dominant performances by center DeMarcus Cousins and guard Jrue Holiday. New Orleans figures to keep up that offensive intensity against the Kings (7-17), who have lost their last two games, three of their last four and are 3-11 on the road.
Cousins had a monster performance in the Pelicans’ 123-114 victory over Denver on Wednesday. In 40 minutes, Cousins scored 40 points, including 14-of-21 from the foul line, while also pulling down 22 rebounds. Cousins collected 11 fouls from Denver big men Kenneth Faried and Mason Plumlee.
Cousins’ scoring and rebounding totals against Denver were just short of his season high of 41 points and 23 rebounds, which he posted in a 114-106 road victory over the Kings, his former team, Oct. 26. Davis also missed that game because of injury, and Cousins carried the load.
“I think he’s the most dominant player in our game,” Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo said of his fellow Kentucky teammate.
“It’s hard to stop him,” Holiday said. “Just hand him the ball. He should’ve had 50.”
“It’s incredible,” said Pelicans forward Darius Miller, another Kentucky product. “Nobody can stop him, as far as staying in front of him. He draws so much attention and double-teams that he gets a lot of open looks for everybody else. When he plays like that, he’s pretty much unstoppable.”
Holiday has been on fire recently — a stretch that coincides with Rondo’s return from preseason surgery to repair a sports hernia. Rondo missed the first 13 games of the season, but in the 12 games since he became the team’s starting point guard, the Pelicans are 7-5. Rondo is averaging 11.5 points, 9.8 assists and 6.3 rebounds in the last four games.
In the 11 games Rondo has started, Holiday is averaging 20 points and 4.4 assists while shooting 48.3 percent.
“Obviously with Rondo, he takes (care) of a lot of the (pace) and swinging the ball and being able to do that from the point guard standpoint. It just leaves me to score,” Holiday said.
The Kings are coming off a valiant 101-95 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday night in which Zach Randolph scored a team-high 18 points and added 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Former Pelicans guard Buddy Hield also had 17 points.
Newly acquired small forward JaKarr Sampson grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds against Cleveland and also played tough defense on LeBron James, who finished with 32 points in 41 minutes.
“That’s what I do,” Sampson said. “I want to be that energy guy out there, that guy goes out there and do all the dirty stuff, get my hands dirty, lock up the best player, grab rebounds, make it easy for my teammates. And that’s what I’m good at and that’s the type of player I am.”