CHICAGO — After waiting three years to make his NBA debut in his hometown, Anthony Davis acknowledged that Saturday night was an emotional night.
But the emotion he focused on most after the Pelicans’ 107-100 loss to the Chicago Bulls was disappointment, despite delivering a strong performance with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.
“I don’t get into all of that,” he said of the sentiment of playing in Chicago. “I just want to win. My whole goal tonight was to come here and win the basketball game, and didn’t.
“We have to go back to the drawing board and see what we did wrong and try and win our next game.”
Davis, who is averaging 24.6 points and 10.2 rebounds, wouldn’t even concede that it felt good to play well in front of family and friends.
“It doesn’t matter, if we don’t win,” he said. “I don’t really care about that. I just want to win. I could have had 50 and we lose, it really doesn’t matter because it doesn’t mean anything.”
The Pelicans (15-15) had won four of the previous six games.
Tyreke Evans had 26 points, and Jrue Holiday added 19 for New Orleans.
The Bulls (21-9) have won six straight and were led by Jimmy Butler’s 33 points.
Davis, who attended Perspectives Charter High School, missed the Pelicans’ lone game in Chicago the previous two seasons with injuries.
It was Davis’ first game in Chicago as a member of the Pelicans, but he played his first game in the United Center as a pro over the summer when Team USA faced Brazil in an exhibition game.
Davis appeared a little nervous at the start and missed his first two field-goal attempts, but he settled down after swishing a 16-footer on his third attempt.
The Pelicans had a 25-23 lead after the first quarter and were up 43-42 with two minutes left in the first half mainly because of their ability to defend without fouling. But they committed three straight shooting fouls in less than a minute to allow the Bulls to score seven straight points to regain the lead.
Davis, who had 16 points in the first half, ended the run with a basket to trim the deficit to 49-45 at halftime.
The Pelicans rallied early in the third quarter to grab a 58-55 lead. Again, the difference was the Pelicans’ tough defense, which forced the Bulls into mostly low-percentage shots.
But about midway through the third, the direction of the game shifted. Whether it was the Pelicans’ fatigue from playing the previous night or a superior team taking command, the Bulls produced an 11-4 spurt to take a 66-62.
Evans broke the streak with a basket to close the gap to two points, but the Bulls continued to surge and built the lead up to 80-71 entering the fourth.
Besides Butler, Aaron Brooks charged through the New Orleans defense for easy baskets — something that rarely happened in the first 2½ quarters.
Things weren’t much better at the start of the fourth quarter when Davis was on the bench getting his second-half rest. By the time he returned with eight minutes to play, the deficit was 88-75. The closest the Pelicans got thereafter was seven points.
“We gave up 15 offensive rebounds, turned the ball over 15 times, and they scored 23 points off the turnovers,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “If you give a team like that 30 extra possessions on the road, you’re going to have a tough time winning. We lost by seven. It’s tough when you give up that many possessions.”