Pelicans (13-12), Nuggets (13-11)
New Orleans hasn’t had the services of the NBA’s eighth-leading scorer for three consecutive games, but you wouldn’t know it from scanning the point totals since Anthony Davis was sidelined by injury on the weekend. For a third straight game, the Pelicans tallied 115-plus points, this time tying a season high in offense by piling up 123 points. Davis’ All-Star frontcourt partner, DeMarcus Cousins, registered one of the best games of his NBA career, finishing with 40 points and 22 rebounds, the only player to post those numbers this season.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
New Orleans built a 20-point lead at the midway point of the fourth quarter, going up 117-97. The Pelicans were in front just 97-91 at the end of the third period, but put together a significant surge to take control.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Cousins was a force all night, putting up nearly identical scoring and rebounding numbers in each half. The three-time All-Star was at 19 points and 10 rebounds at intermission, then added 21 points and 12 boards after the break. He shot 12/25 from the field overall, putting Denver bigs in constant foul trouble by making 21 trips to the foul line and sinking 14 of those attempts. He grabbed seven offensive rebounds and was on the floor for 39:34, carrying a major load with Davis out of action.
“Incredible,” Pelicans and college teammate Darius Miller said of Cousins. “Can’t nobody stop him. It’s hard to stay in front of him. He’s so skilled, strong. He’s quicker than most of the bigs. When he’s having a night like that, it’s hard for anyone to stop him.”
QUOTES TO NOTE
“My mindset is when our team plays the right way, we can play with the best of them. We can beat the best of them. It’s on us to find that consistency on a nightly basis. That’s something we’ve struggled with this season. Once we find that, I think we can play with the best.” – Cousins on a postgame interview with NBA TV, discussing the Pelicans
“I think he’s the most dominant player in our game, especially when he gets the ball in the post. He demands double- and triple-teams. When you put three or four bigs in foul trouble every night, it speaks for itself.” – Rajon Rondo (11 points, seven assists) on Cousins, who helped foul out Mason Plumlee and tag Kenneth Faried with five fouls
“A couple of our leaders were talking about the first team that starts to play defense and gets stops is going to win the game. I think we picked up our intensity in the second half and it worked out for us.” –Miller on how the Pelicans’ defense swung the game in their favor
“The Golden States and the Houstons and San Antonios of the world, that’s another ladder we have to climb. Right now there are other ladders we have to get to, before we think about those ladders. It’s the teams like (Denver) that we’re going to be fighting for playoff positions. These are the ones we definitely have to make sure we’re winning at home.” – Alvin Gentry on the importance of the win over the Nuggets, who are now only a half-game ahead of the Pelicans in the Western Conference
BY THE NUMBERS
53.5: New Orleans shooting percentage from the field, continuing an excellent stretch of accuracy in the past few weeks. Jrue Holiday equaled Cousins by dropping in 12 baskets, going 12/20 from the floor, part of Holiday’s 27-point performance.
12/31: Pelicans three-point shooting, led by E’Twaun Moore’s 4/7 night. Moore was the team’s third-leading scorer Wednesday with 14 points.
48: Denver second-half points, after the Nuggets tallied 66 in the first half. New Orleans was much tighter defensively in the final 24 minutes.
2: Zatarain’s is donating meals to the Second Harvest Food Bank for every Pelicans dunk at home games this season. New Orleans threw down two slams vs. Denver.