NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis exuded an unmistakable swagger as he strode slowly toward the charged-up crowd behind the basket where he’d just rolled in an off-balance scoop while being fouled. Then, he exchanged a congratulatory five with Arcade Fire singer Win Butler, who was sitting along the baseline.
The Pelicans star wasn’t going to be denied — and neither, for that matter, was the rest of his recently resurgent team.
Davis finished with 45 points and 10 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans won their fourth straight game, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-96 on Wednesday night.
"We’re just playing great and when our crowd is into it like they were in it tonight, it gives us juice," said Davis, who hit 17 of 27 shots that included thunderous dunks, 3-pointers and just about everything in between. "My teammates are doing a great job of just finding me and vice versa. We’re all just locked in, playing well together, clicking."
Terrence Jones scored 17 points for New Orleans, which trailed early in the second half before Davis scored eight points during a 13-2 run that gave the Pelicans the lead for good.
More Timberwolves Coverage
"I’m amazed every time at the shots he makes. You know, he’s able to do it with double-teams and triple teams — MVP performance," guard Tim Frazier said. "He just came out there and he led us."
New Orleans led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter and cruised to its sixth victory in eight games. E’Twaun Moore added 12 points, and Tim Frazier had 11.
Zach LaVine scored 26 for Minnesota, but the Timberwolves lost their third straight.
"We have to play tougher," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We are not playing any defense, and if you are not doing that, you can’t win."
Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng each had 13 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns grabbed 11 rebounds for Minnesota, which did not shoot well. Wiggins was 2 for 19 and the Wolves hit only 38 percent (33 of 86) of their shots. New Orleans shot 54 percent (45 of 83).
"We have to change something," said Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio, who did not score and had five assists. "We have to change our mentality."
Timberwolves: The Timberwolves opened a three-game road trip by dropping to 1-6 on the road this season. … Minnesota shot 3 of 17 from 3-point range.
Pelicans: The Pelicans are 4-0 since Jrue Holiday’s return. After scoring at least 15 in each of his first three games, he had seven points and eight assists against Minnesota. … F Dante Cunningham left the game early in the second quarter. Team officials said he had a left knee bruise.
The game featured a pair of dominant former Kentucky big men in Davis and Towns, but it was the Pelicans who owned the paint, where New Orleans outscored Minnesota 66-44. The Pelicans also outrebounded the Wolves, 45-41.
"I just tried to get into him and be physical," Davis said of his approach against Towns. "I know it’s tough for me when teams get physical with me. It’s tough to get into a groove and get into what you like. So that’s all I tried to do, knowing he’s a big key to their offense, just try to take him out as much as possible and have other guys beat us."
Davis had 12 points in the first seven minutes, including a 12-foot jumper that gave New Orleans a 21-9 lead.
But the Timberwolves closed the gap late in the third quarter and surged in front in the second period with a 11-0 run capped by Dieng’s foul-line jumper as he was fouled by Omer Asik, putting Minnesota up 46-38.
New Orleans, however, closed the half on a 10-0 run during which Jones hit two free throws and dunked twice — once on a put-back of Davis’ miss — to put the Pelicans back in front, 53-50.