NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis noticed that his rebounding numbers were lower than usual against the Dallas Mavericks. Davis also knew why, and he wasn’t about to complain about it, as long as it was Pelicans teammate Julius Randle getting to the ball instead.
“He’s playing physical. He wants to go get every rebound. He wants to make every shot. He’s a perfectionist in my opinion, and that’s a good thing about him,” Davis said. “He demands a lot of himself because he wants to win. When you’ve got a guy like that who’s hungry for everything, every possession, every loose ball, it’s going to make your team better.”
Randle had 27 points and 18 rebounds and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Dallas Mavericks 132-106 on Wednesday night.
Davis also scored 27 points to go with a career-high nine assists, five blocks and four rebounds — nine below his average — despite twisting his ankle and briefly leaving the court for treatment after stepping on Dorian Finney-Smith’s foot in the third quarter.
Davis said his ankle felt “great” after the game, and credited his spike in assists to the Pelicans finding a good rhythm by the end of the first quarter and sustaining it until the end.
“Guys are making shots and a lot of guys are playing with confidence and not afraid to take shots,” Davis said after New Orleans shot 55.4 percent (51-of-92) overall and an even better 58.6 percent (17-of-29) from 3-point range. “When guys are going to double-team me, once I get the ball in my hands, I’ve just got to make the right reads.”
Jrue Holiday had 17 points and four steals for New Orleans, which largely controlled the contest while winning for just the third time in nine games.
Harrison Barnes had 16 points and Wesley Matthews 15 for the Mavericks, who came in having won five of six but had trouble with the Pelicans’ up-tempo pace while playing one night after beating Portland at home.
“We could not get it going from start to finish,” Barnes said. “It was not a great night for us, but we have to flush it and keep moving.
“You cannot make excuses for yourself and the schedule is what it is,” Barnes added. “You just have to go out there and play, and tonight we just did not compete at the level that we are used to competing at.”
J.J. Barea scored 14 points, and Dwight Powell added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas, which also was short-handed as usual starting guard Dennis Smith Jr. sat out with a sprained right wrist.
“We have to get home, get healed up as much as we can, and get ready to go,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
New Orleans never trailed after E’Twaun Moore’s 20-foot jumper put the Pelicans up 32-31 at the end of the first quarter.
Running the floor relentlessly, and effectively after many of the Mavs’ 18 turnovers, the Pelicans scored 60 points in the paint and 29 on fast breaks.
New Orleans led by 16 at halftime, by as many as 25 in the third quarter and 29 in the fourth.
“We wanted to come in, knowing they were on a back-to-back, and just push the ball and be aggressive,” Davis said.
Mavericks: As Powell dunked early in the fourth quarter, he was poked in eye by Davis. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle received a technical foul for shouting at officials about the play and Holiday made the technical foul shot. ... Finney-Smith had 12 points and Jalen Brunson had 11 points. ... The Mavs shot 42.9 percent (39-of-91) and missed 32 of 46 3-point attempts.
Pelicans: F Nikola Mirotic, New Orleans’ third-leading scorer, missed his second straight game with an illness. Randle started in his place. ... Darius Miller made four of his six 3-point shots for all of his 12 points off the bench while Moore made three of four. Davis made both of his shots from deep and Randle made two of three. ... Holiday, who has struggled with turnovers at times, finished with eight assists and only one turnover.
With Randle moving from sixth man to starter, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry decided to try to solidify his second unity by moving usual starting wing E’Twaun Moore into a reserve role and start defensive-minded Solomon Hill. The Pelicans improved defensively and enjoyed a boost in bench scoring that allowed them to increase leads several times while starters rested.
Moore finished with 17 points and six assists in 26:24 and made three of four 3s.
“If I come off the bench I don’t care. I’m going to jump right into the fire with an aggressive mindset,” Moore said. “I’m definitely down for it. Anything to help the team win.”
Mavericks: Host Houston on Saturday night.
Pelicans: Host Memphis on Friday night.