Davis powers Pelicans past Lakers
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans were off and running the moment Kobe Bryant’s 20-foot jumper bounced off the rim and into the hands of 7-foot Pelicans center Omer Asik.
Evans took the outlet pass, drove forcefully toward the left side of the lane and then flicked aloft an underhanded lob that Davis threw down for a crowd-pleasing, alley-oop dunk.
Solid defense against the only significant scoring threat the reeling Los Angeles Lakers possess right now created opportunities for New Orleans to run. Davis had 25 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots, and the Pelicans opened a 23-point lead on their way to a 109-102 victory Wednesday night.
"When we continue to defend like that, the offense is going to come," said Pelicans coach Monty Williams, whose team had 18 fast-break points. "When you don’t have to call plays because you are running in transition it is hard for the opposing team to set up."
Evans had 19 points and 11 assists for New Orleans one game after going 2-for-14 in a loss at Cleveland on Monday night.
"I was definitely disappointed in the Cleveland game," Evans said. "I knew I was going to bounce back and be aggressive and that’s what I did."
Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday each added 17 points for New Orleans.
Bryant finished with 33, the most a player has scored against New Orleans this season, but had to take 28 shots to do it. He missed 18, one night after setting the NBA record for most missed field goals in a career.
"We all just tried to corral him," Holiday said. "We just wanted to give Kobe a lot of different looks, try to make him uncomfortable."
Bryant sounded less concerned about his offense than his team’s defense.
New Orleans dominated inside, outscoring Los Angeles 60-34 in the paint. The Pelicans shot 54.9 percent (45 of 82), compared to 41.7 percent (35 of 84) for the Lakers.
"It should be fixable," Bryant said. "We just need to plug the lane and take care of the paint."
The question is whether Los Angeles has the personnel to do that against a team with the size and explosiveness of New Orleans.
"We know they didn’t really have any rim-protectors," Davis said. "Everybody was out there attacking, trying to get into the paint."
Carlos Boozer had 16 points and Jeremy Lin 15 for the Lakers, who lost their second straight and dropped to 1-7 this season.
Asik grabbed 13 rebounds for New Orleans, which outrebounded Los Angeles 44-38.
Lakers coach Byron Scott said he’s going to give his team about four more games to prove it can run his defensive system before he changes his approach.
"Most of the time, the things we want to do, they haven’t done," Scott said. "I don’t know (yet) if it’s because they aren’t capable of doing it or not."
The Lakers were as close as 63-60 on Lin’s jumper from about 4 feet behind the 3-point line in the middle of the third quarter, but the Pelicans closed the period on a 22-12 run that included nine points from Holiday.
Lakers: G Ronnie Price was ejected in the second half for a flagrant-2 foul on Austin Rivers. Price caught Rivers with a forearm across the face as Rivers drove to the basket. Officials initially called a regular foul and then upgraded it after video review. … Scott said he could not forecast when Wayne Ellington might return from his leave of absence, which was granted by the team after Ellington’s father was found fatally shot on Sunday in Philadelphia. … Scott said he hopes forward Ryan Kelly can return from a sore right hamstring by Friday against San Antonio and that swingman Nick Young could be back from a torn ligament in his right thumb by next week.
Pelicans: The game marked the fourth time since last season that Davis reached at least 25 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks in a game. The rest of the NBA has combined to do that twice in that span. … Small forward Luke Babbitt played for the first time since spraining a finger on his left hand at Memphis on Nov. 3. He played 17 minutes and had three points and one rebound.
Lakers: Host the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
Pelicans: Host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.