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Davis powers Pelicans past Lakers

The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- Not far from where New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is shredding the NFL with his rare combination of size and speed, another of the city's budding pro stars is wreaking the same kind of havoc against NBA defenses.

New Orleans Pelicans second-year forward Anthony Davis put on the kind of multi-faceted performance Friday night in a 96-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers that would have NFL scouts drooling.

In scoring a career-high 32 points -- 11 in the fourth quarter -- grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking six shots, the 6-foot-10 Davis, the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, repeatedly beat the slower-footed Lakers' defense down the court, stopping only at the rim to slam home an array of nuclear dunks.

"It's an easy play," said Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday, who had season-high 13 assists, including an alley-oop feed to Davis down the stretch in an 11-0 Pelicans' run to ice the game. "It's an automatic two points, maybe even three. With A.D., you've just got to throw it somewhere in the vicinity of the basketball court."

One of Davis' most amazing plays came with New Orleans clinging to a 76-74 lead with 6:26 left. That came right after guard Steve Blake, whose 3-pointer in the final 2 seconds on Thursday night was the difference in the Lakers' 99-98 victory over Houston, nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

The Pelicans inbounded the ball quickly, and guard Tyreke Evans saw Davis open near the free-throw line. Davis took the ball just inside the line, streaked past forward Jordan Hill and slammed home a tomahawk dunk that electrified the crowd.

On New Orleans' next possession, Davis beat the Lakers down court and took an alley-oop feed from Holiday for another one-handed jam. Earlier in the game, Davis beat forward Pau Gasol downcourt by 20 feet after blocking Gasol's shot under the basket, racing past the Lakers defense for another gift score.

"That's something we try to do," Davis said, referring to his jam on the feed by Evans. "When they score, we try to get back out fast so that they can't set the defense. They left me open and I thought about shooting a jumper, but I just decided to attack the basket and get the crowd into it and get the team back into it. That's when we made our run, and it opened up from there."

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, who coached Davis on the 2012 Olympic team, said he had seen this act before. "He's good, but he's not that good," D'Antoni said. "We just didn't play well."

When Los Angeles cut the deficit to 84-81 with 3:29 left, the Pelicans ran off 11 consecutive points, with Davis accounting for seven.

The victory evened the Pelicans' record at 3-3 and gave them their first regular-season win over the Lakers following 11 consecutive losses dating back to 2010. Davis' six blocks had Gasol changing his shot the entire night.

"I'm glad he's on my team," Pelicans center Jason Smith said. "He's a tough player to play against. He's playing defense, he's running the floor, blocking shot. He's knocking down jumpers, attacking the rim. He's there for follow-up rebounds and tip dunks. It's not one thing. It's a plethora of things."

Guard Eric Gordon added 16 points and Smith had 14 for New Orleans. The Lakers (3-4) were led by center Chris Kaman with 16 and by forward Nick Young and Blake with 13 each.

NOTES: Lakers PG Steve Nash, 39, sat out the game to rest on the second night of a back-to-back. ... NBA commissioner David Stern, who will retire in February, was in New Orleans Friday to tour the Pelicans' $15 million practice facility -- located on the New Orleans Saints' campus -- and he got the thanks of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for keeping the franchise in New Orleans when it looked like a relocation might have been a possibility. "I was the instrument of the league that felt the pain of New Orleans after Katrina, and we were determined to do our best and everything possible to make sure we were a part of what we knew would be the growth and the redemption of New Orleans -- and we did it," Stern said. "We are part of a team and delighted to be here to say thank you for making the NBA stronger." ... Pelicans F Ryan Anderson, who has missed the first six games with a broken toe, is getting close to returning. "I've got to hear from the doctor that he's not going to hurt himself by playing," coach Monty Williams said. ... Pelicans F Anthony Davis was the first player with at least 15 points and three blocks in each of the first five games since Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson did it in 1992-93. "He's a lot better now," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of the 2012 Olympian he helped coach. "He's just a great feel for the game. He's very athletic. He's a great kid. I'm sure he's great to coach. He was good in college. He came out and I remember Jim Boeheim saying, 'This guy is really good -- defensively, blocking shots, running the floor, great kid, everything you want. And he's just getting better every year, getting stronger, and just learning the game a little better."
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