Davis leaves game in first with injured shoulder, Pelicans clipped again
Danilo Gallinari's scoring from the perimeter and the post was too much for a reeling Pelicans team that once again found itself try to cope with an injury to Anthony Davis.
Gallinari had a season-high 32 points, Davis hurt his left shoulder in the first quarter and the Denver Nuggets defeated New Orleans 115-98 on Tuesday night.
"I was just trying to play aggressive," Gallinari said. "I was able to hit from outside and go inside in the post, but first thing, the credit goes to my teammates, because they were always finding me at the right time at the right place."
Gallinari scored 29 points in the first three quarters, then Jameer Nelson began to assert himself with a barrage of clutch shots that squelched any hope New Orleans had of coming back.
Nelson scored all 16 of his points in the last 14:10, helping Denver secure its fourth victory in five games.
"As a point guard, you have to know time and score. You have to know situations and what your team needs and when they need it," Nelson said. "We had started to get a little stagnant."
Ryan Anderson scored 24 and Eric Gordon 19 for the injury-riddled Pelicans, who were able to stay within single digits most of the game before fading in the final minutes.
"We just ran out of gas," said first-year coach Alvin Gentry, whose team has won just once in 11 games. "We played hard. We competed. We played so many strange lineups and we just fell short. Their guys made some big plays at the end."
Ish Smith added 13 points, while Luke Babbitt and Dante Cunningham each scored 11 for New Orleans, which has lost four straight.
Gentry did not have an update on Davis' condition after the game, but team spokesman Matt Ryan said Davis joined the squad for a flight to Oklahoma City. Davis recently missed two games with a hip injury.
Denver hit 15 of 30 3-point attempts, with Gallinari making five of eight. Nelson shot 4 of 6 from deep, all of them demoralizing for a Pelicans team struggling to keep pace. Will Barton was 3 of 4 on 3s in a 17-point outing. Gary Harris, who scored 16 points, also went 3 of 4.
"Danilo was lights-out. I've been in the gym working on my shot night in and night out," Barton said. "Gary was a shooter coming into the NBA. I think he's finding his game. Jameer -- we all know what he can do."
New Orleans, by contrast, missed 16 of 23 3-point attempts.
Both teams shot well overall, with the Nuggets hitting 52.9 percent (45 of 85) and New Orleans 49.4 percent (41 of 83).
Gentry said he doesn't believe all the losing is hurting team morale yet, and he doesn't expect it to, either.
"I'm not a negative person and I don't want our guys to be negative," Gentry said. "Whatever you write, whatever you say, whatever you guys put on the radio, you've got every right to do that. But I'm just saying that in our situation we're still going to be positive. I don't think the season is over by any stretch of the imagination."
Nuggets: Darrell Arthur was a game-time scratch because of an illness. ... The Nuggets announced earlier Tuesday that F Wilson Chandler underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. Chandler will miss the rest of the season. Denver also was without C Jusuf Nurkic (left knee) and C Joffrey Lauvergne (lower back).
Pelicans: C Omer Asik was a late scratch because of a stomach illness. The Pelicans also were without G Tyreke Evans (right knee), F Quincy Pondexter (left knee), G Norris Cole (left ankle) and C Kendrick Perkins. ... G Jrue Holiday played 22 minutes (scoring 10 points), so he is not expected to play Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. With Holiday working his way back from a right shin injury that has caused him to miss much of the past two seasons, he is on playing-time restrictions and so far has not played this season in back-to-back games.
Nuggets: At San Antonio on Wednesday night.
Pelicans: At Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.