Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown has studied Anthony Davis to help in the development of his team’s rookie center/power forward Nerlens Noel, with both being slender former first-round picks from Kentucky.
While expecting Noel to be on the same path immediately as Davis might be unfair, given that Davis had a better skill base with which to start, Brown now has a tape of the two to gauge future progress.
Davis, a first-year All-Star starter who is in his third season, showed his polish in leading the Pelicans to a 99-74 blowout Monday night at the Smoothie King Center.
“Because I’ve known (Pelicans coach) Monty Williams for a long, long time, and worked with Monty and worked with (General Manager) Dell (Demps), you sort of get stories that give me a relief of the patience that it really does take for someone like Anthony Davis, who was 214 pounds his rookie year and is now 240 and looks like a million bucks,” Brown said. “And he’s just a world-beater. What a cornerstone to anybody’s program.”
Davis again looked like a world-beater, getting 32 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, as New Orleans’ winning streak reached four for the first time since March 21-28 last season, when they won five in a row. The win also put the Pelicans (24-21) three games over the .500 mark for the first time since the end of the 2010-11 season, when New Orleans finished 46-36.
With the eighth-place Phoenix Suns idle, the win also nudged the Pelicans to 1½ games behind in ninth place in the Western Conference playoff race. And it avenged a 96-81 loss to the 76ers (8-37) in Philadelphia, a game in which Davis and point guard Jrue Holiday were out injured.
“We were coming off a big one against Dallas, and we wanted to get this back-to-back,” he said. “We have two big ones coming up against Denver (Wednesday) and the Clippers (Friday), and we’re going to try to get those, too.”
Davis left with the Pelicans leading 85-62 after three quarters, as the Pelicans won both games of a back-to-back for the first time this season after nine tries.
“The ball movement was great, everybody was rebounding and talking,” Davis said. “When we play like that, it’s fun to watch.”
Tyreke Evans had another stellar performance at point guard with 12 assists.
Noel, the top pick in the 2013 draft by New Orleans who was sent to Philadelphia (8-37) in the Jrue Holiday trade but missed his true rookie season recovering from a knee injury, had two points in his first matchup with Davis.
Davis picked up where he left off from the win against Dallas in taking his leadership to a new level. He scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting in leading New Orleans to a 52-43 halftime lead.
And Evans, who scored one point, had 10 assists. Gordon scored 10 points, and Ryan Anderson came off the bench for his second consecutive strong first half with 12.
Most notably was that the Pelicans had just three turnovers.
Davis scored 13 in the first quarter as the Pelicans got off to a fast start for the second consecutive game, leading 30-19 when it ended. Davis had two rebound dunks of missed drives by Evans and a monster dunk of a lob by Evans.
That was a far better beginning than the first meeting on Jan. 16 at Philadelphia. In that one, the 76ers made 10 of their first 14 shots on their way to a 14-point lead.
The Sixers went on a 14-3 run to come to 34-33 at 8:26 of the second. However, Anderson restored order with a tip-in and a 3-pointer. By that time, Davis and Gordon had returned, and Asik soon followed. New Orleans, which started the quarter shooting 3-of-17, finished with a 5-of-7 burst.
Sixers starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams sat out the game with flu-like symptoms. Coach Brett Brown said Carter-Williams, last season’s Rookie of the Year, had battled the ailment the past two games. Carter-Williams had a game-high 22 points and seven assists, six rebounds and three steals in the 76ers’ 96-81 win against New Orleans on Jan. 16 in Philadelphia.