While the last-place New Orleans Pelicans don’t have much to play for, Anthony Davis is playing at the highest of levels.
Looking to build on another monster performance, Davis tries to help the Pelicans avoid a sixth consecutive loss to the visiting Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
Davis was at his best in Sunday’s 121-120 overtime win over Boston, posting career highs of 40 points and 21 rebounds while shooting 14 of 22. The second-year standout also added three blocks to become just the eighth player in NBA history to finish with 40, 20 and three.
"We’re trying to finish this season out trying to get more wins," said Davis, whose team has all but been eliminated from contention. "My teammates tell me that they feed off my energy and they want me to be great so, I can’t be timid and (need to) do whatever it takes to help my team win. We’re definitely going to enjoy it, but we are not going to stop here. We know we have a game coming up that’s going to be tough, but we are going to battle each and every night."
Davis has averaged 32.3 points and 14.3 boards in leading New Orleans (27-39) to four wins in six games.
"It’s fun to have a front-row seat and watch it," point guard Brian Roberts told the team’s official website. "Game in and game out now, he’s getting it. It’s amazing that he just turned 21 and he seems to have the game down. He knows how to pick and choose his spots to be aggressive, and he can read the game now. That doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something he started to figure out.
"It’s scary for the other teams. It’s good for me."
Davis finished with a relatively pedestrian 19 points and seven rebounds in a 108-101 loss at Toronto on Feb. 10, the Pelicans’ fifth straight defeat in the series. DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points for the Raptors that night, and Kyle Lowry added 19 and 12 assists.
The Raptors are 15-6 in the series dating to January 2004.
Atlantic Division-leading Toronto (37-29) had won five of six before suffering back-to-back losses, 121-113 to Phoenix on Sunday and 118-113 in overtime at Atlanta on Tuesday. DeRozan had 29 points and a career best-tying 10 boards, but the Raptors committed 15 turnovers to the Hawks’ nine.
"A lot of things didn’t go our way, but we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation to start with," said DeRozan, whose team hasn’t lost three in a row since a season-worst five-game skid Nov. 26-Dec. 6. "We’ve got to learn from it."
The Raptors will again go for road win No. 18, a number they haven’t reached since 2001-02. Toronto, which has dropped five straight when closing back-to-backs, is 7-7 against the Western Conference away from home.
The Raptors are 33-8 when holding teams to 100 points or fewer compared to 4-21 when they don’t. New Orleans is averaging 111.2 over its last six.
Toronto could be without center Jonas Valanciunas, who had 16 points in 20 minutes before exiting Tuesday with a sprained lower back. Valanciunas is averaging 18.0 points – well above his season mark of 10.5 – while shooting 69.7 percent over the last three games.