Davis scores 42 in Pelicans' road win
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(TSX / STATS) -- MINNEAPOLIS -- With just nine players available for Friday night's game against Minnesota, the New Orleans Pelicans were going to need someone to step up.
Anthony Davis was the obvious choice, but the big man had some help.
Davis scored 42 points -- his sixth 40-point game of the season -- as the Pelicans pulled away from the Timberwolves for a 122-106 victory at Target Center.
As good as Davis was, his supporting cast gave him a lift. Jrue Holiday had 25 points and 12 assists, and rookie Buddy Hield scored 17 points.
"We played great team basketball," Davis said. "We helped each other defensively. We moved the basketball on the offensive end. Guys made shots."
Davis was instrumental in helping New Orleans turn a 15-point first-half deficit into a double-digit victory. The Pelicans standout was an efficient 16 of 22 from the floor, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range, en route to his 42-point night.
Two of Davis' six 40-point games this season are against Minnesota. He also scored 45 against the Timberwolves in November.
"I thought we got good looks. Then, obviously, when AD shoots the ball like that, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense," New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. "That, in turn, opens up shots for other guys."
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 36 points. Andrew Wiggins scored 29 points, and Ricky Rubio had 15 points and 12 assists.
During the early portion of the game, Davis and Towns -- both former standouts at Kentucky -- battled back and forth. Whenever Davis hit a shot, Towns answered at the other end. Towns had 19 points in Minnesota's 40-point first quarter and Davis had 13.
In the second half, though, there was little Towns or the Timberwolves could do to slow Davis down.
"It's always fun going against another Kentucky alum," Davis said. "But I think tonight I got the best of him."
New Orleans was missing several players for various reasons, but Davis was a one-man wrecking crew. The Pelicans and Timberwolves entered with identical 20-33 records and yet Davis single-handedly helped New Orleans pick up its first road win since Jan. 12.
The Pelicans shot 60 percent from the floor -- their highest field goal percentage all season -- and were 12 of 25 from 3-point range.
"We didn't play hard on defense," Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio said. "We let them shoot 60-plus percent from the field. It's hard to play like that."
The Timberwolves were up by as many as 15 points but saw that lead disappear in the third quarter. Led by Davis, the Pelicans rallied to take a nine-point lead by the end of the third. Davis and Hield scored 12 points in the quarter.
The lead continued to grow for New Orleans in the fourth quarter as Minnesota struggled to make stops on defense. The Timberwolves have been one of the worst defenses in the NBA this season and couldn't do much to slow down Davis the Pelicans.
"It's not easy to win in this league, and if we're not going to do the little things, it's going to be impossible to win," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You can't take a day off, a play off, a possession off."
The Pelicans took a 72-71 lead on a 3-pointer by Hield early in the third quarter. New Orleans never trailed the rest of the way and held Minnesota to 31 points in the second half, including 17 in the fourth quarter.
"We didn't play with the same urgency and it cost us," Towns said.
Timberwolves rookie point guard Kris Dunn saw action after missing four games with a hand injury. He wasn't much of a factor, though, as he went scoreless with one assist in nine minutes.
Despite a shortened bench, New Orleans' reserves still outscored Minnesota's backups 19-9. Langston Galloway led Pelicans bench players with nine points.
NOTES: Pelicans G E'Twaun Moore and C Alexis Ajinca missed the game because of personal reasons. Moore is averaging 9.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Ajinca hasn't played since Dec. 23. ... New Orleans G/F Tyreke Evans missed the game with an ankle injury. Evans suffered the injury on Monday and did not play Wednesday against the Jazz. ... Pelicans F Terrence Jones did not play because of a right thumb sprain. Jones played Wednesday against Utah and had a team-high 21 points in the Pelicans' loss. ... Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said he's pleased with the improvements Karl-Anthony Towns has made with his communication on defense. "He's getting there," Thibodeau said. "There's still more room for him to grow, too, and he has to be consistent with it."
Updated February 10, 2017