Davis returns, leads Pelicans past Blazers, 119-113
NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis scored 36 points in his return from a right ankle sprain, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Portland Trail Blazers 119-113 on Friday night.
Davis did not appear at all bothered by the injury that kept him out of Wednesday night’s narrow loss in Memphis, scoring on everything from explosive dribble drives to soaring dunks.
DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 19 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 25 points for New Orleans, which hit the halfway point of the regular season one game above .500 and in the Western Conference playoff picture, but still in need of more consistency and less sloppiness.
While the Pelicans shot 54.9 percent (45 of 82), they nearly threw the game away with 18 turnovers, which Portland converted into 28 points.
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum each scored 23 points for Portland, which attempted 42 3-pointers and missed 30 of them.
Al-Farouq Aminu had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Jusuf Nurkic added 19 points for the Blazers. Shabazz Napier scored 17 points in his seventh start of the season, and his 3-pointer gave the Blazers their biggest lead at 75-67 in the third quarter. Soon after, however, Rajon Rondo’s 3 ignited an 11-2 New Orleans run that also included Cousins’ cutting dunk as he was fouled, and the Pelicans preserved a single-digit lead the rest of the way.
Anthony Davis’ restored mobility was evident when he used a behind-the-back dribble to cross up defender Ed Davis, who stumbled backward into Aminu. The Pelicans star then drove down the lane and finished a short floater as he was fouled by Zach Collins.
Later, Davis went well above the rim to throw down a sly alley-oop lob from Cousins, who suddenly tossed the ball up with his right hand after initiating a dribble drive from the top of the key.
New Orleans led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter when Cousins’ 3 capped a 16-4 run that made it 45-29.
But Lillard, who had just four points midway through the second quarter, pulled the Blazers back by scoring nine quick points during a 13-4 run, hitting two 3s and a driving layup as he was fouled.
McCollum and Aminu added 3s to further close the gap, and Lillard’s steal of Holiday’s pass and breakaway dunk tied it at 61 heading into halftime.
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