NEW ORLEANS – Anthony Davis had 10 field goals for New Orleans against Denver on Saturday night. That’s not a bad total, but it doesn’t begin to tell the whole story about how he carried the Pelicans.
Davis added 20-for-21 shooting from the free throw line and finished with 40 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Pelicans defeated the Nuggets 125-115 Saturday night.
Davis’ performance on Saturday followed a 43-point effort a night earlier in a win over New York.
“It’s pretty hard to stop him, especially when he gets in a groove like that,” said Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, who overcame foul trouble to finish with 19 points and match Davis’ assists. “We don’t think anyone can guard him in the first place.”
Julius Randle had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Nikola Mirotic had 20 points and 10 rebounds and E’Twaun Moore scored 13 for New Orleans, which won for the fifth time in six games.
Nikola Jokic had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Gary Harris scored 24, Juancho Hernangomez had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Monte Morris came off the bench to add 13 and Jamal Murray had 11 for the Nuggets, who lost for the fifth time in six games.
Davis’ assists tied a career-high and it was his seventh game with at least six assists this season. In his previous six seasons, he had just eight such games.
“I just realized that a lot of teams are scouting for me,” Davis said. “They didn’t want me to go off I guess, so I’m just trying to find guys and guys are playing with a lot of confidence and making shots. They know and I know where they are going to be and they know where I like them to be.”
The Pelicans made 31 of 34 free throws, and the Nuggets made 8-of-13.
“I felt we were doing things that should’ve generated some more free throws,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “Obviously, the referees didn’t see it that way tonight. They saw them getting fouled quite a bit.”
The Pelicans, who rallied from a 19-point deficit against the Knicks, had a much easier time against the Nuggets.
Though Denver got off to a fast start, New Orleans took the lead late in the first quarter and never trailed again.
Davis scored 12 points as the Pelicans held a 37-35 lead after the first quarter. He wound up with 12 at halftime as his team clung to a 70-67 halftime lead and even though he had just four points in the third quarter, New Orleans took a 98-88 lead into the final period.
The Nuggets got within seven points three times early in the fourth quarter, but Davis and Holiday scored four points each during an 8-0 run that gave New Orleans a 110-95 lead midway through the quarter.
The closest Denver got after that was nine points.
“It’s hard to stop him,” Jokic said of Davis. “He’s a really great player. We didn’t do a good job tonight.”
TIP-INSNuggets: Denver was coming off a season-high point total in a 138-93 home victory against Atlanta on Monday. . The Nuggets outscored the Pelicans 58-82 in the paint.
Pelicans: The Pelicans had four scorers in double figures by the middle of the second quarter. ... Randle had all but six of the points and four of the rebounds that came from New Orleans’ bench. . Holiday went to the bench midway through the third quarter after committing his fourth foul.
PAYTON OUT INDEFINITELYPelicans G Elfrid Payton will see a hand surgeon next week to get an evaluation of the broken little finger on his left hand that he sustained against the Knicks on Friday. It was Payton’s first game back in the lineup after missing nine straight due to a sprained right ankle.
JOKIC COOLS OFFJokic leads the Nuggets with a scoring average of 17.1 points per game, and he surpassed that in the first quarter. But after scoring 18 first-quarter points, Jokic cooled off. He finished with 25 points, the team-high, on 10-of-20 shooting and had 10 rebounds.
UP NEXTNuggets: Denver visits Milwaukee on Monday.
Pelicans: New Orleans hosts San Antonio on Monday.