Anthony Davis didn’t seem fazed that fellow All-Star and former University of Kentucky standout DeMarcus Cousins was sitting on the bench during crunch time.
Instead, he just took over.
Davis scored 46 points and grabbed 21 rebounds Saturday night, leading the New Orleans Pelicans to a 125-122 victory in overtime against the Charlotte Hornets. He had 15 points in the fourth quarter and nine more in overtime, including a three-point play on an offensive rebound to put the Pelicans ahead for good with 1:11 left in the extra period.
The Pelicans won despite Cousins not returning to the court after picking up his fifth foul with 9 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Cousins declined interviews after the game.
“It’s Coach’s decision,” said Davis, who was also celebrating his 24th birthday. “All that matters is that we won. All that other stuff, it doesn’t matter. No one cares about that. We’re just trying to get wins. Whatever it takes.”
When asked about pairing Cousins with Davis on the floor, Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry said: “What we need is time to make it work.”
New Orleans had hoped to make up ground in the Western Conference standings, but came in just 2-6 since acquiring Cousins in a blockbuster All-Star weekend trade with the Sacramento Kings.
Cousins seemed frustrated most of the night grappling with scrappy Hornets center Cody Zeller, who dunked past Cousins on a fastbreak after Cousins turned the ball over in the front court on a bad pass.
Cousins picked up his third foul with 4 1/2 minutes to go in the second quarter, forcing him to the bench. He got his fifth when he appeared to lose his cool early in the fourth quarter when he blatantly threw his elbow at Zeller and was called for an offensive foul.
With Cousins out, Davis went on a tear.
He made three three-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished 18 of 31 from the field, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc.
“The movement that he had and the spacing he created I thought was the way he got most of his shots,” Gentry said of Davis. “He was very good creating and going quickly and not giving them an opportunity to double him. When he does that and he gets into space and he’s feeling good about his shot and what he’s doing, he’s very difficult to guard.”
After a turnover by Charlotte’s Nic Batum and a missed three-pointer, Davis drove the lane and made a floater to put the Pelicans up by 5 with 20 seconds left in overtime. Batum scored on a layup to cut the lead to 123-120, but Holiday added two free throws and it appeared the game was over.
But after a layup by Marco Belinelli, Holiday was called for traveling in the backcourt with 1.8 seconds left giving the Hornets a chance to send the game into double overtime. However, Walker’s long 3-point attempt was off the mark at the buzzer.
The Hornets had a chance to win at the end of regulation after Davis missed a baseline jumper with 8 seconds left.
Pelicans: Jordan Crawford had 19 points and Holiday added 15 points and 13 assists. … Davis started despite injuring his wrist in Wednesday night’s 94-87 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Hornets: Attempted 46 3-point shots, making just 13.
ZELLER: COUSINS A TOUGH COVER
Zeller had nothing but positive things to say about Cousins after the game.
“He’s such a talented player that you just try to make it tough on him, try to take away all of his easy ones, keep him off the free throw line, the offensive glass,” said Zeller, who limited Cousins to 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
WILLIAMS BIG NIGHT
The Pelicans’ win offset an impressive night from Marvin Williams, who had a season-high 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds for Charlotte. Kemba Walker had 24 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds and Batum also scored 24 points.
“He’s been huge for us all season, especially how he organizes us on defense and stuff that fans that don’t necessarily notice,” Zeller said.