Davis scores 19 to lift Pelicans over Suns after leaving game early
Despite missing Anthony Davis for nearly half the game, the New Orleans Pelicans still pulled out a key win to keep pace in the playoff race.
Davis had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead the Pelicans to a 90-75 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
Davis got tangled near the basket with the Suns' Earl Barron, whose elbow struck the New Orleans forward below the chin in the second quarter. Davis was hunched over with his hands clasping his throat before slowly walked off the court and into the home locker room.
"I was concerned when he didn't come back," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said after the game. "The play happened so fast. I saw him walk off the floor and I didn't know if he got hit there or right in the Adam's apple."
Davis returned in the fourth to a rousing ovation and had six points and five rebounds in the final 11 minutes.
Eric Gordon scored 15 points, Tyreke Evans had 14, and Dante Cunningham and Norris Cole each added 12 to help the Pelicans keep pace with Oklahoma City for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Omer Asik had a season-high 18 rebounds.
New Orleans led 27-21 when Davis left the game and took a six-point lead into halftime. The Pelicans extended it to 10 by the end of the third quarter and spent the final 10 1/2 minutes playing with a double-digit advantage.
That helped Davis, sitting in the training room, from rushing back before he was ready to play again.
"I was watching the game in the back and we were in control the entire game," Davis wrote on a Pelicans official's cell phone after the game because he couldn't talk. "I was having trouble swallowing. The doctors made sure I was OK and it was no hesitation to go back and play."
Eric Bledsoe led Phoenix with 19 points. The Suns lost for the eighth time in 10 games.
"There were a lot of loose rebounds and loose balls that they got," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "I know several of them that if we could of just got those, we'd be off to the races and then maybe we could cut the gap."
New Orleans limited Phoenix to 35 percent shooting and outrebounded the Suns 56-43. Phoenix had only 13 second-chance points as the Pelicans came up with 41 defensive rebounds.
Suns: Phoenix was shooting 34 percent from 3-point range before Friday night. Against the Pelicans, though, the Suns were just 7 of 25 (28 percent) from beyond the arc.
Pelicans: New Orleans had 29 assists and improved to 25-4 when having at least 24 this season.
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday returned for the first time since injuring his right leg on Jan. 12, entering with 1:05 to play in the first quarter. He missed 41 games, a period in which New Orleans went 24-17 and worked its way into the Western Conference playoff chase. He finished with two points and five assists in 15-plus minutes.
Suns: At San Antonio on Sunday
Pelicans: At Houston on Sunday