Anthony Davis explodes for 43 points, leads Pelicans past Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY -- Anthony Davis wanted to come out strong to help the New Orleans Pelicans end their road swing with a win. He got off to a fast start and kept it going.
Davis had a career-high 43 points and 14 rebounds, Jrue Holiday added 19 points and eight assists, and the Pelicans beat the Utah Jazz 106-94 on Saturday night. Davis shot 16 for 23 from the field to help the Pelicans earn a split of their four-game western road trip.
"All of our guards did a great job of finding me and making sure I got the ball in my sweet spot," Davis said. Then it was my job to knock them down. It was a testament to my team. They know I try to get going early, so they give me the ball -- knowing they're going to have a lot of shots during the course of the game."
Gordon Hayward scored 31 points and Trey Burke had a season-high 20 for the Jazz. It wasn't nearly enough to keep pace with Davis.
"There was never really an opportunity to double him, because he goes so quickly when he gets the ball," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "It's a real challenge. The thing you can't do is give him some easy baskets."
New Orleans led 66-47 on a 3-pointer from Holiday with 9:21 left in the third quarter. Utah showed some improvement on both ends of the court, limiting the Pelicans to five baskets over the final 9 minutes of the quarter. It helped the Jazz chip away at the lead as Hayward drove for a layup to cap a 10-2 spurt and cut the Pelicans' lead to 70-61.
Hayward then made four free throws over a 20-second span to cut the deficit to 77-72 heading to the fourth.
New Orleans closed the door on the comeback in the fourth quarter. Starting with a Holiday 3-pointer and ending in a driving dunk from Davis, the Pelicans put together a 10-2 run to take an 87-74 lead with 9:28 remaining.
Utah closed within single digits one more time, pulling to 99-90 on Burke's jumper with 3:08 left. But Austin Rivers and Holiday drove for back-to-back layups to put the game out of reach.
"We just weren't able to (get stops)," Hayward said. "We dug ourselves too big of a hole. We fought back, I'm proud of the effort we had in the second half. They went on another run, and I think we just didn't have enough to get enough stops."
New Orleans steadily built a big lead behind clutch shooting from Davis. He hit all five shots and all four free throws he attempted in the second quarter and had 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting in the first half alone. His final basket of the half capped a 17-5 run to give the Pelicans a 56-38 lead with 1:44 remaining before halftime.
"He never lost his rhythm," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "He'd come out of the game and come right back and get right back into it again. We know he's a special player who's just starting to scratch the surface."
New Orleans dominated in the paint throughout the first quarter. The Pelicans controlled the boards and had a 16-4 edge in points in the paint by quarter's end. New Orleans led 21-15 after Alexis Ajinca capped a 11-3 run with two baskets and 25-19 on a layup from Eric Gordon and jumper from Davis.
The Jazz briefly retook the lead early in the second quarter, going up 27-25 on a steal and layup from Dante Exum. New Orleans scored nine consecutive points -- capped by a 3-pointer by Rivers -- to take control again and go up 34-27.
Pelicans: Guards Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday both rank among the Top 15 in the NBA this season in assists per game, averaging 6.5 assists apiece. They combined for 12 against the Jazz. As a team, New Orleans ranks ninth in the league with 22.8 assists per contest. ... Anthony Davis' previous career high was 40 points against Boston on March 16, 2014. His season-high before facing Utah was 31.
Jazz: Derrick Favors earned his fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. ... Utah had 18 turnovers compared to just 10 for New Orleans. The Pelicans were able to score 21 points off the Jazz miscues.
Pelicans: Host Sacramento on Tuesday.
Jazz: Host Chicago on Monday.