LOS ANGELES (AP) - In one year, Anthony Davis has gone from Hornet to Pelican - and become one of the NBA’s top young stars after getting selected with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Davis had 28 points and 15 rebounds a week shy of his 21st birthday, and the New Orleans Pelicans snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 132-125 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
The win ended a string of nine straight road losses to the Lakers and was only the third for New Orleans in the last 18 meetings overall - including a 96-85 victory Nov. 8 in which Davis had a career-high 32 points.
“We needed this win to get back on track and we needed to get back in rhythm,” Davis said. “We came out and played with a lot of intensity. I was just trying to come out and be aggressive. I know I didn’t play the best in the last two games, so I had to be aggressive.”
The first-time All-Star made seven of his first eight shots, one night after missing his first 10 in a 96-89 loss at Sacramento while playing with a sore left shoulder.
Davis is averaging 20.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He has a chance to become the first NBA player to finish a season averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots since Shaquille O’Neal did it with the Lakers in 1999-00.
“For a guy that sets such a high bar - to be 20 years old and have all those expectations - who at 20 is playing like him? In the history of the game, there are very few,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “So when he has nights off, and everybody wonders what’s wrong, he’s entitled. The way he’s played, and as good as he’s gotten, I don’t know who else is going to win Most Improved Player.”
Eric Gordon also had 28 points for the Pelicans and Brian Roberts scored 10 of his 19 during a 1½-minute span in the fourth quarter. Tyreke Evans had 24 points and 11 assists, helping New Orleans salvage the finale of a five-game road trip that included a 32-point loss to the Clippers on Saturday night at Staples Center.
Pau Gasol had 29 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who were attempting to match their longest winning streak of the season after beating Sacramento last Friday and Portland on Monday. The loss was their 27th in 35 games and dropped them back into sole possession of last place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Sacramento and Utah.
Newcomer Kent Bazemore had 23 points and Jordan Farmer added 20 off the bench for Los Angeles.
Coming into the game, the Lakers had allowed an average of 48.2 points in the paint and 16.3 second-chance points, the worst figures in the league in both categories. The Pelicans, who changed their nickname from Hornets before this season, ended up with 54 in the paint and 15 second-chance points.
“The only way we’re going to evaluate our team is not through stat sheets, but who shuts people down. And we have to get better at it,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We had an emotional hangover at the start. You get so high on a good game like last night, you think you’re ready - and you’re not. It took us at least two quarters to get into anyone. The first 10 minutes looked like a layup drill for the other team.”
Gordon’s jumper gave New Orleans a 74-53 advantage with 9:54 left in the third quarter, but the Lakers narrowed the gap to 91-85 on Ryan Kelly’s 15-footer with 1:12 left in the period.
That was as close as they got until a late push.
Gasol made one of two free throws to cut New Orleans’ lead to 128-125 with 18.1 seconds to go. Gordon sank two foul shots at the other end, and Bazemore missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Anthony Morrow hit two foul shots with 11 seconds remaining to finish the scoring.