Anthony Davis stalked his way to center court, nodded his head, opened his mouth and raised his arms toward the roof.
He felt the energy emitting from his 53-point outburst, eliciting a roar from the awestruck and appreciative fans inside the Smoothie King Center on Monday night.
It was the closing act of a memorable performance and extended the New Orleans Pelicans’ winning streak to six games, the longest streak of Davis’ career. And it served as the latest chapter in Davis pulling the Pelicans from the brink of disaster into one of the NBA’s most interesting topics.
The Pelicans have done their part.
They’ll seek to keep the storyline and the streak alive on Wednesday in San Antonio, facing the Spurs at 7 p.m. in the AT&T Center. A win would pull the Pelicans within a half-game of the coveted No. 4 spot in the Western Conference standings, directly on the Spurs’ heels.
Less than three weeks ago, New Orleans was on the outside looking in at a playoff spot.
Then Davis put on his cape.
“I’m just trying to do my part,” he said after knocking off the Phoenix Suns.
It’s a unique role.
Ever since the Pelicans’ slipped into a four-game losing streak in the wake of Cousins’ injury, Davis resurrected his team’s playoff hopes and is carrying an unlikely MVP candidacy along with it.
In six consecutive wins Davis is averaging an astonishing 41.5 points, 15 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 3 steals, and 2 assists. It’s the most productive stretch of his career and the best six-game collection of fantasy points in the NBA this season.
“It's amazing to watch, especially the streak he's on right now. ,” Pelicans’ forward Darius Miller said. “It seems like he just keeps getting better and better every game. Hopefully he continues this hot streak so we can ride it out.”
While Davis is the obvious focus of the Pelicans’ attack, coach Alvin Gentry has praised him for not forcing the issue and still taking what the defense allows, rather than unilaterally trying to fill up the stat sheet.
The numbers back it up.
Davis’ efficiency is nearly as impressive as his volume, converting 54.2 percent of his 27.7 attempts per game during this outburst, while attempting 12.2 free throws. He’s now No. 2 in the NBA’s Player Efficiency Rating this season, trailing only MVP favorite James Harden, and recently surpassing Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
The Pelicans have never done this.
Davis has dominated a myriad of games in his six-year career, but this is a full fortnight. Even for the two-time, first-team All-NBA big man, this has been unchartered territory.
He’s eclipsed the 40-point plateau four times in the past six games, pulling in double-digit rebounds in all of those. Davis has scored on jumpers, short hooks, rim runs, alley-oops, fast breaks, put backs and fadeaways.
At one time or another, it’s all working.
So, what exactly gotten into him?
“Honestly, I couldn't tell you,” said Miller, who won an NCAA championship with Davis at Kentucky and is in his fourth NBA season alongside him. “He's been dominating all year but he's taken it to another level. I think he's a guy who when he sees we need something he just does it.
“After losing Cuz , we had a little moment where we weren't playing well and were trying to figure out how to play without him, and (Davis) just started dominating. And then Jrue started playing out of his mind and we just fed off that.”
While Holiday is posting the best numbers of his career, even he admits the performance he’s watching from Davis is an awe-inspiring one.
“We’ve adjusted (without Cousins),” Holiday said. “Again, everybody's just sitting on Anthony's shoulder waiting for him to score 50 a night.”
Although the half-century mark isn’t a commonplace occurrence, scratching it for the third time in his career, it didn’t seem unexpected, considering his prolific run.
It’s partly why Davis took to center court, reminding himself, his team and their fans that these are times to cherish.
“We're playing tremendously right now,” Davis said. “Everybody’s stepping up. The fans are into it up. The bench is into it. And the five guys on the court are talking, helping each other out and it gets emotional. Every now and then I do something like that."