Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) drives and makes a basket in the third quarter while Detroit Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver (43) defends as they play at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, March 4, 2015. The Pelicans won 88-85.

The Brow is back.

Thirty seconds into his return from a five-game absence due to a sprained shoulder, Pelicans forward Anthony Davis rose up for a 15-foot baseline jumper Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons.

Nothing but net.

It was a welcome sign for a franchise that has pinned its future on the All-Star, despite the Pelicans rattling off a 5-1 record in his absence to remain in the Western Conference playoff hunt.

Davis kicked off any possible rust quickly, missing a pair of jumpers from the wing and a few putback attempts at the basket in the first quarter.

Then he went back to doing what makes him the NBA’s brightest young superstar, carrying the Pelicans’ to an 88-85 win at the Smoothie King Center.

Davis played without a minutes restriction in his first night back, logging a season-high 42 of them. And he made an impact on nearly every possession. He recorded 19 points in the first half, added 12 more in the third quarter and finished with 39.

His pair of midrange jumpers in the final minute helped seal a hard-fought victory and highlighted one of the best performances in Davis’ young career.

On the defensive end, he also racked up eight blocks — setting a franchise record for career blocks (surpassing David West’s 435) along the way — and pulling down 13 rebounds to log his 31st double-double in 49 games this season.

One of the few people not excited to see No. 23 put on the spectacular display was Pistons’ coach Stan Van Gundy.

“I think it’s a major mistake they’re playing him tonight,” Van Gundy joked before the game. “I don’t think that shoulder is the least bit ready.”

Greg gets back

The pile of tickets and envelopes were stacked high in front of Pistons’ forward Greg Monroe’s locker.

The New Orleans native was looking through his phone, putting down names and making sure his variety of family and friends were able to attend his annual appearance in the Smoothie King Center.

“It’s a little bit of a hassle just making sure you don’t miss anybody,” Monroe said. “Actually, the hard part is making sure they have seats together. It’s different with the guest seats, so you just have to find a way to make it work.”

Monroe said he was fortunate to catch his alma mater, Helen Cox, win a 80-59 playoff game against Mandeville at John Ehret’s gym on Tuesday night — his first game in attendance since graduating the school in 2010.

“I know most of (the players),” Monroe said. “I pass over there whenever I’m in town. I go work out over there sometimes so I know a few of the guys. So it was definitely good to see them win a playoff game.”

On Wednesday, he struggled through a difficult post matchup against Davis, scoring 13 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and dishing five assists in the loss.

Holiday hopeful

Injured Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday was able to walk without a medical boot on his foot for the first time in three weeks, but said he still isn’t back to full health.

Holiday has been out since Jan. 14 because of a stress reaction in his right leg. He then re-aggravated the injury during a workout Feb. 16, leaving his timetable for return murky.

“This is just about decreasing the pain and swelling,” Holiday said. “There’s still some in there. It’s about taking your time and making sure it’s all gone.”

Coach Monty Williams said he’s also uncertain when Holiday will be re-evaluated, but expects him to travel to Los Angeles to visit with the specialist who performed a non-surgical procedure on the stress fracture.

“Nothing has changed outside of him getting out of his boot,” Williams said. “He’ll probably take a flight out to see his doctor in L.A. Just for some more mental confidence for him, but nothing has changed. It’s good that he’s out of the boot and walking without a limp, and he’s getting better.

“How much better? We aren’t sure until we get him out on the floor and put him through the paces a little bit.”


New Orleans scored just six points in the first seven minutes of game, spurring Williams into calling three timeouts during the first nine minutes, as Detroit piled up 12 fast-break points and built a 12-point lead. ... Pistons’ guard Jodie Meeks scored 14 points in the second quarter including a thunderous alley-oop dunk over three Pelicans. ... Detroit committed 16 turnovers in the first three quarters.