Pelicans win first game
AP — Three games into his second season Anthony Davis is quickly establishing himself as the leader of the baby-faced New Orleans Pelicans.
Davis had 25 points, eight rebounds, a career-high six blocks and five assists to lead New Orleans to a 105-84 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night, its first win changing its nickname to Pelicans.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Davis has scored at least 20 points in each of the Hornets’ first three games and has made 19 of 20 free throws.
He punctuated his performance Saturday by diving into the scorer’s table to save a pass from going out of bounds and hustling back to score in transition.
“I’m just trying to hustle and everything I need to do to help my team win,” Davis said. “If it’s me diving on the floor to save the ball, or making transition buckets, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Tyreke Evans added 15 points, Jrue Holiday had 14 and Brian Roberts 13 for New Orleans (1-2).
The Bobcats, playing without Al Jefferson, were led by Ramon Sessions with 22 points and Kemba Walker with 14.
“(Davis) is doing it every single night but I think that he can be better,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “I want him to attack the basket more. Obviously I love the points but he’s only scratching the surface as to where he’s going to be as he gets stronger and learns how to draw more fouls.”
The Pelicans set a franchise record with 18 blocked shots with Jason Smith matching his career high with five.
New Orleans was coming off a 20-point loss at Orlando on Friday night when it shot 34 percent (37 of 75). The Pelicans recorded 30 assists, led by Holiday with eight and Evans with seven.
“We were doing a great job of talking,” Davis said. “When we talk and communicate with each other we are a tough team to beat.”
The Bobcats were 30 of 80 from the field and were outrebounded 43-41.
New Orleans led 56-41 at halftime, and with a frontcourt led by Davis effectively closing off the middle the Bobcats never seriously threatened. The Bobcats trailed 77-62 at the end of three quarters but could come no closer than 14 points in the fourth quarter. A jumper by Gerald Henderson cut the Pelicans’ lead to 83-69 but Roberts answered with a four-point play to give New Orleans an 87-69 lead with 8:12 left.
“It was bad,” Henderson said. “We didn’t come out with the focus we needed. We made a lot of mistakes, especially at the start of the game.”
Playing at home for the second time in three games, the Pelicans made their first three shots and scored on their first eight possessions, including one sequence in which they grabbed two offensive rebounds and took a 15-4 lead with 7:19 remaining in the first half.
The Pelicans led 33-15 after the first quarter, nearly equaling their 36-point first-half output against the Magic. New Orleans shot 50 percent from the field and held Charlotte to 6-of-20 shooting.
Evans’ layup with 11:12 left in the second quarter gave the Pelicans a 37-15 lead, their largest of the half. Charlotte got within 56-41.
“At halftime I thought we had a chance,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. “I thought we would hang in there and respond. The disappointing part to me was the beginning of the third quarter where we just came out with nothing. “
“It’s so hard to get wins in this league and I don’t take that for granted,” Williams said. “I know that we can play like that with that kind of energy.
“Love our defensive numbers tonight.”
NOTES: Charlotte attempted eight more free throws than the Pelicans but made only 21 of 36, compared to 24 of 28 for New Orleans.