Anthony Davis may not be named one of the reserves on the Western Conference All-Star team when they are announced Thursday. But he certainly continues to make a case for his inclusion.
The latest argument came Sunday night against the Orlando Magic at the New Orleans Arena: Davis had 22 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the Pelicans’ 100-92 victory.
It was the first time in franchise history that a player reached those combined totals and the first time in the NBA this season.
“I think if he hasn’t done enough (to make the All-Star team), I don’t know what else you can do,” coach Monty Williams said. “Even when he doesn’t have a great offensive night, he’s there on defense, he’s rebounding, he’s blocking shots. When the moment was there tonight, he took over, and that’s what All-Stars do.”
New Orleans (18-25) won its second consecutive game for the first time since Dec. 23 and 27 and for the third time in four games since Dec. 30.
Davis, as he has done all along, deflected All-Star talk again.
“I was just doing my job,” he said. “I’m not really worried about that; I’m worried about winning. We’re not where we want to be, record-wise.”
Davis had a lot of help from Tyreke Evans, who had 23 points, seven assists and seven rebounds and helped stave off the Magic (12-33) in the fourth quarter with 13 points, five rebounds and a big blocked shot.
Davis came up with a big play late to help preserve the win — and that followed one by Evans.
With the Pelicans leading 96-90, Evans blocked a shot by Orlando forward Tobias Harris at the rim with 1:42 to go.
On the other end, Brian Roberts, who scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, penetrated the left side of the lane just inside the free throw line. He bounced a pass to Davis, who went high for a hard, right-handed slam over a host of Magic players.
“Brian had been hitting shots all game, so I just set the screen and it was there,” Davis said. “I had missed some layups, so I decided to go up strong.”
Davis let out a yell after the hard dunk.
“(The Magic) were coming back,” he said. “It energized the crowd and deflated them a little bit. That was a big play, and that’s what we needed.”
After that, the Pelicans defended the 3-point line well in the final few possessions, sealing the victory.
Unlike their blowout loss to Orlando in the second game of the season, the Pelicans were much more competitive from the start. This time, they kept Orlando’s dribble drive and pick-and-roll in check and held it to 3-of-15 (20.0 percent) 3-point shooting.
Magic guards Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo often found themselves shooting over Davis’ outstretched hand. Davis said that was not part of the game’s strategy.
“I was just reading,” he said. “Defense is all about instincts, and I knew there was no way they were going to get to the other side.”
Said Nelson of the seven blocks: “With his length and quickness, it seems he comes out of nowhere. And when he doesn’t block it, he still bothers your shot.”
Orlando came within 87-84 with 5:05 left after Nelson drove and completed a three-point play. But Evans put back a missed jumper by Eric Gordon, and Al-Farouq Aminu sank a free throw, then came up with a steal and basket for a 92-86 lead two minutes later.
Still, it was 94-90 after two free throws by Magic rookie point guard Victor Oladipo before Roberts hit a runner in the lane with 1:57 left and Davis followed with his emphatic slam.
Afflalo led Orlando with 25 points, and Oladipo added 18. Harris had 17 points and nine rebounds.
Gordon had 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting for the Pelicans.