Anthony Davis was told that the New Orleans Pelicans missed consecutive shots only three times in their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, and that they didn’t miss three in a row.
“I’ve never heard of that,” Davis replied. “I don’t know what to say.”
Davis and the Pelicans did all their talking on the court, steamrolling the Timberwolves in record-breaking fashion 139-91 on Friday night in the Smoothie King Center.
The Pelicans set a franchise record for points in a game and margin of victory, the 48-point difference bettering the 41-point differential in a 100-59 win against the Atlanta Hawks against the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 21, 2011. They were two of eight franchise marks, all offensive.
It also was the most points allowed and the largest margin of loss in franchise history for the Timberwolves, a rebuilding team that was without starting point guard Ricky Rubio, who has a badly sprained ankle, and forward Thaddeus Young (family matter).
“We know what it is to play without guys,” said Pelicans coach Monty Williams, whose team was ravaged by injuries last season. “But I thought our effort was great. We did what we had to do. We played the right way, and we have to continue to do that.”
Playing against their second consecutive defensively challenged team, the Pelicans shot 66.7 percent (56-of-84), including 75 percent (15-of-20) on 3-pointers, as seven players scored in double figures. They held the young, bewildered Timberwolves to 40.3 percent shooting and forced a season-high 22 turnovers.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t compete early, and they did what you’re supposed to do,” Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. “We got in a 6 a.m. (Thursday after a game in Mexico). They jumped on us in the beginning, and we reacted in a very negative way.”
Saunders said he talked to his team in the huddle during timeouts about playing for pride.
“You know sometimes when you’re in quicksand and you keep sinking and sinking?” he asked. “It was that kind of feeling. I’ve been in the league 17 years, and I’ve never seen anyone shoot like that. I think I could have put five chairs out on the court, and they wouldn’t have shot like that.”
Unlike the previous game Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, the worst defensive team in the NBA, the Pelicans finished strongly. Williams said after that game that Los Angeles finishing the game on a 24-8 run was “something we’ve got to talk about.”
That was not necessary on this night. Coming against a franchise that had routed New Orleans in its arena the past two years, the Pelicans’ lead reached 52 points — at 135-83 — with 4:46 left.
So easy was the Pelicans’ time that, when point guard Jrue Holiday drove for a basket at 4:33 of the third quarter, he could have laid the ball up with one more step, but he passed out to Tyreke Evans for a 3-pointer.
More important, with a four-game Western Conference road trip beginning Monday, New Orleans (5-3) won for the fourth time in five games and is two games over .500 for the first time since December 2011. It was the Pelicans’ third consecutive home win and fifth consecutive game overall scoring at least 100 points.
New Orleans also notched another much-valued Western Conference triumph. And while it won’t fit in the big win category, it was another one at home.
Twelve of the 13 Pelicans played, none longer than the 27 minutes logged by Holiday, and all of them scored.
The Pelicans jumped on Minnesota, which started rookies Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, to the tune of 80-44 at halftime. New Orleans set franchise records with 43 points in the first quarter, 80 points in the first half and 72.1 percent field-goal percentage in the opening half.
Davis scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. But Holiday led New Orleans with 14 points and six assists. He was one of three Pelicans who didn’t miss a shot in the first half. He was 5-of-5, Austin Rivers also shot 5-of-5 and Eric Gordon, who has been in a slump, was 4-of-4.
Playing with a seemingly higher energy and more confidence than usual against a vulnerable foe, the Pelicans broke to a 7-0 lead in the first minute, 18 seconds on their way to a commanding 43-19 lead by quarter’s end.
The Pelicans made six of their first eight shots, and by the 7:18 mark, it was 20-6. They disrupted Minnesota’s pick-and-roll, nullified attempts in the lane except for an occasional drive and drove to the basket themselves.
A step-back jumper by Ryan Anderson gave the Pelicans their first lead of 20 points or more — 34-13 — with 2:32 showing. When the quarter ended, New Orleans had shot 75 percent (18-of-24), including 4-of-5 on 3-pointers with no turnovers.