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New Orleans Pelicans able to put away Sacramento Kings, 109-97

Anthony Davis returned, Pelicans salvaged a win on the road trip, but Omer Asik gets the picture for his work against DeMarcus Cousins tonight.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After missing nearly three full games, Anthony Davis returned to the starting lineup for the Pelicans matchup with the Kings in Sacramento tonight. It paid immediate dividends.

The Pelicans jumped out to a 22-10 lead on the strength of 4 three-pointers, 3 from the left baseline (2 by Dante Cunningham, 1 by Davis). Although New Orleans won the first quarter 28-19, thanks to a favorable 6-0 turnover advantage, Tyreke Evans had to leave the game, and after an examination on the bench, his surgically repaired knee had already started to swell.

During the second quarter, the Pelicans stretched their lead to 37-23 after Ryan Anderson had started the game with three makes in four tries. However the story of the first half had to be the performances of the role players. Dante Cunningham had 6 points on 2 threes, Norris Cole had 12 points on 7 shots, and Omer Asik had 8 points and 9 rebounds (7 offensive). Despite a bit of a shaky finish to the half (giving up 5 points in final 28 seconds), the Pelicans took a 15-point lead (59-44) into the break.

The start of the third quarter saw the Kings score 4 straight points, but that was it for their highlights; the Pelicans out-scored Sacramento 31-17 to open up a 25 point lead (90-65). Jrue Holiday had only 6 points and 3 assists during the frame; however, his presence had the team clicking on all cylinders. For instance, after nabbing a contested defensive rebound, Holiday raced up the floor and was rewarded by finding Alonzo Gee for an alley-oop. Easy scores like that are precisely what Alvin Gentry has been awaiting all season.

The fourth started innocently enough as New Orleans held a 28-point lead after Gee splashed a three-pointer at the 9:56 mark. However, the Kings found a spark and began to fight for everything on the court; meanwhile the Pelicans failed to match their intensity and went ice cold from the field. When the dust settled, Sacramento had run off 14 straight points before Cole finally broke the streak with a lay-up in transition. From that point on, the Pelicans were able to regroup to finish off the Kings.

Eric Gordon ended his fabulous night with 24 points with 6 threes, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. In his return, Anthony Davis also had 24 points (on 23 shots) and added 10 rebounds and 3 assists. Norris Cole and Ryan Anderson both finished with 18 points off the bench.

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with a line of 32 points, 12 rebounds and 3 threes.

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