Davis blocks eight shots; Pelicans rout 76ers

Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- On a night when the New Orleans Pelicans posted the sixth most lopsided victory in franchise history -- a 135-98 blowout of the Philadelphia 76ers -- all anyone could talk about was the looming defensive presence of second-year forward Anthony Davis.
Davis finished with a career-high eight blocked shots.
"There were so many blocked shots -- it was a volleyball game," said Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, who added that the 6-foot-10 Davis reminds him of a young Tim Duncan with his athleticism. "He's got a timing aspect that's exceptional.
"Tim Duncan never really boasted his athleticism, but he would not get lifted. He would wait and wait and wait and then pick it out of the air when it was appropriate. Davis has that timing aspect, plus he's got that bounce."
Davis played the spiker's position all night. The first overall pick in the 2012 draft played only 29 minutes because of of the rout, leaving the game with 3:15 left in the third quarter and New Orleans leading 95-61.
Still, Davis finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks, just short of the first triple-double of his career.
The Pelicans placed eight players in double figures -- led by Ryan Anderson's game-high 26 points in his first game of the season -- but Davis was the key on both ends. The Pelicans finished with 16 blocked shots.
"Coach wants me to be a leader and to step up and take the challenge," Davis said. "That's what I'm trying to do -- talking to the guys and leading the team. It's tough asking me that, since this is only my second year in the league, but he thinks I'm capable of doing it and I think I'm capable of doing it. I'm just trying to go out there and lead the way."
One sequence told a particularly impressive story. Davis reached over forward Evan Turner to swat away a shot under the Pelicans' basket, and then he raced downcourt for a layup on the other end to make it 87-55.
"He helps me out so much on defense," said Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday, a former 76er who had 14 points and 12 assists in his first game against his ex-teammates. "I got blown by a couple of times and he saved my rear end. He'll block the shot and then go get the dunk down at the other end. The bar he is setting for himself and for everybody else is leadership-type stuff."
The Pelicans got a huge lift from Anderson, who finished second in the NBA with 212 made 3-pointers last season but had missed the first nine games after breaking a toe just before the season opener. Anderson nailed six 3-pointers in 10 attempts, and his presence allowed New Orleans to space the floor.
"It was just moving the ball," Anderson said, referring to the Pelicans' 30 assists on 52 made baskets. "We played with a lot of energy, and when you play at that tempo and pace, we get open shots."
Guards Eric Gordon had 19 points and Tyreke Evans 15 for New Orleans. Guard Brian Roberts had 14 points, guard Austin Rivers scored 12 and forward Al-Farouq Aminu had 10 for the Pelicans (4-6), who snapped a three-game losing streak.
After leading 15-14, Philadelphia (5-6) allowed the Pelicans to run off 20 of the next 27 points and never threatened. The 76ers, who were paced by guard Tony Wroten with 18 points, lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Holiday, who was traded to New Orleans from the 76ers on draft night, also seemed focused in his first game against his former team, notching six first-quarter assists in directing the Pelicans to a 34-22 lead. Davis also had five blocked shots in the first quarter, tying a franchise record for most blocks in a quarter.
Using a sticky defense that forced the 76ers into quick misses, the Pelicans used a 27-9 spurt in the first 7:36 of the second quarter to grab a 61-31. Evans led the way by scoring nine of his 14 first-half points in the quarter, flashing the extra quickness he has picked up from losing 12 pounds over the last three weeks after being hobbled with a sprained ankle.
NOTES: Pelicans F Ryan Anderson, who missed the first nine games of the season with a chip fracture of the second toe on his right foot, returned to action. "I'm really excited to get back out there," said Anderson, a legitimate 3-point threat who was New Orleans' leading scorer (16.2 ppg) last season. "We've started off games extremely well. We've shown we can play with any team. I think it's just maintaining that (level), and if I can do anything to help, that's great." ... The 76ers were without rookie G Michael Carter-Williams for the third consecutive game with a bruised left foot. ... Pelicans coach Monty Williams said he has been pleased with the draft-night trade that brought All-Star PG Jrue Holiday from Philadelphia to New Orleans, but he hopes Holiday can begin protecting the ball better. Holiday is averaging 4.1 turnovers per game, is shooting just 39.8 percent and has a 1.65 assist-to-turnover ratio -- career lows. "He's figuring some things out," Williams said. "He'll be the first to tell you he wants to get his turnovers down. That will come with familiarity." ... 76ers coach Brett Brown said he wants his team, which opened the season 3-0, to get better at "everything." "We have to preach ball movement and sharing the ball," Brown said. "Good to great -- that's a good shot, that's a great shot."

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