Davis scores 21, grabs 12 boards as Pelicans get win over Timberwolves
The New Orleans Pelicans have lost their fair share of winnable games on the road this month, a trend that cannot continue if they hope to make a run at the playoffs in the rugged Western Conference.
Newly minted All-Star starter Anthony Davis made sure they didn’t let another one slip away against the league’s worst team.
Davis had 21 points and 12 rebounds to help the Pelicans avoid what would have been another ugly road loss with a 92-84 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
Eric Gordon scored 20 points and the Pelicans (22-21) shot 50 percent from the field to move over .500 for the first time since Jan. 2. New Orleans has won two in a row for the first time in more than a month.
"Teams that are ahead of us, they’re going to keep winning," Gordon said. "There’s no slowing down for them. For us, we got to get over that hump and beat most of these Western Conference teams."
Gorgui Dieng had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves (7-35), who have the fewest wins in the league.
The Pelicans moved into a tie with Oklahoma City for ninth in the Western Conference after the Thunder lost to Atlanta.
Ryan Anderson missed the game with ankle inflammation and Jrue Holiday again was out with a stress reaction in his right leg. But a team that has struggled against some of the league’s worst managed to buckle down and grind one out against the lowly Timberwolves.
Davis made just 9 of 23 shots, but the Pelicans held star rookie Andrew Wiggins to 13 points on 6-for-16 shooting.
"I think he’s physically and mentally just worn (out)," coach Flip Saunders said of Wiggins, who has been forced into a featured role with Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio out because of injuries. "I think he’s hit the rookie wall a bit. Somehow we’ve got to find a way to go right through it. He’s got to find a soft spot in that wall and we have to bust right through it."
The 92 points were the fewest scored by the Pelicans in a win this year, but after an uneven January, they’ll take Ws any way they can.
Glaring losses at Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Charlotte this month kept the Pelicans from building any momentum in a conference that offers little room for missteps. Things looked a little ominous in the early going when they fell behind 11-1 to a team they beat by 48 points in November.
But Dante Cunningham, who had struggled with his shooting recently, made 7 of 12 shots for 14 points and Tyreke Evans had 17 points and eight assists to help the Pelicans hold off the Wolves.
Minnesota pulled within 82-78 with four minutes to play, but Cunningham hit a jumper, Davis scored on a drive to the basket and then iced the game with an 18-foot jumper.
Thaddeus Young scored 15 points and Mo Williams added 12 points and 10 assists for Minnesota.
"We’re not trying to string up two," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "We’d like to get on a real streak. We’ve been able to do that in the past, try to get three, four wins in a row."
Pelicans: Davis only had one block in the game, ending a streak of five straight games with at least 20 points and three blocks that was the longest in the league since 2003. … Nate Wolters, a native of St. Cloud, Minn., had five points in 14 minutes.
Timberwolves: Kevin Martin was downgraded from questionable to out earlier in the day while he experienced more swelling in his fractured right wrist. … The Wolves have lost 10 straight at home. … Young did not grab a rebound in 31 minutes.
Cunningham played the previous two seasons in Minnesota, a stay that finished on a sour note when he was charged with domestic assault against his then-girlfriend at the end of last season. The charges were eventually dropped when police decided that the woman fabricated the allegations as part of an extortion attempt. The short-handed Pelicans signed him in December to a veteran’s minimum deal, and Cunningham is trying to rebuild his reputation.
"Honestly, another gym, another arena," Cunningham said of his return. "Try not to think about it too much. Obviously, it’s in the back of your mind, being here for two years. Just got to go play and get a win."
Pelicans: Host Dallas on Sunday.
Timberwolves: Visit Atlanta on Sunday.