I don’t know how you spent your 24th birthday, but you probably didn’t enjoy yourself as much as Anthony Davis did on his.
Davis continued his assault on the basketball universe to the tune of a 46-point, 21-rebound monstrosity of a game. There are not nearly enough adjectives and superlatives in the English language to fully contextualize what kind of show Davis put on Saturday night for the people of Charlotte so I’ll just leave this little tidbit: since Davis entered the league in the 2012-13 season, he has had three 40 point-20 rebound games. The rest of the NBA combined has zero. Over the last 30 years, only Shaquille O’Neal has more 40-20s than our own Anthony Davis.
Safe to say Davis is probably better at basketball than you, me or his buddy DeMarcus Cousins right now. Boogie had his worst night as a Pelican. He totaled 11 points on 11 attempts, but more importantly, he was limited to only 25 minutes of playing time. Whether it was the five fouls he drew or the fact he garnered six turnovers, Alvin Gentry kept him on the bench for most of the 4th quarter and all of overtime.
Take this however you want but of the three wins New Orleans has earned since trading for Cousins, one came when he was suspended for surpassing the technical foul limit, one came when he fouled out, and one where he was ineffective and in serious foul trouble. I’m not saying that means anything I’m just saying.
In a game where Davis shined and Cousins did not, other Pelicans stepped up to have positive nights. Jrue Holiday gets some love from this writer thanks to his 15-point, 13-assist night. He tacked on three steals, and most importantly, limited his turnovers to two. It may have taken him 14 shots to get 15 points, but Holiday more than compensated by creating for his teammates and handling the ball with the greatest of care — I refuse to even consider the travel call during the remaining seconds of overtime!
Had Davis not gone ham, the oft-maligned Solomon Hill would have been the story for the Pelicans, at least for the first half. Hill led New Orleans with 14 points at the end of the first half thanks to a hot 7-11 start from the field. Hill finished with 16 points and absolutely locked up Kemba Walker defensively on Charlotte’s final possession in regulation.
The Pelicans only played four reserves on the night and they combined for 35 points. Of the 35, 33 were courtesy of Dante Cunningham and Jordan Crawford. Crawford was hot early, dropping three bombs early and finishing with five of seven three-point makes en route to a 19-point night. Cunningham was equally hot and made six of his seven shots from the floor to finish with 14 points. Crawford also chipped in six assists and Cunningham grabbed six boards, so both did a nice job of influencing the game beyond merely getting buckets.
In a back and forth game, Charlotte had their share of strong performances, too. Marvin Williams didn’t back down from the Davis-Cousins pairing as evidenced by a pretty damn impressive line of 27 point, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and a block. Kemba Walker and Nic Batum had big, albeit inefficient, scoring nights. Each scored 24 points, but it took 24 and 21 shots respectively to get to that amount. Walker and Batum also combined to shoot 8-28 from three which doesn’t sound good and almost definitely contributed to Charlotte’s 28 percent night from behind the line, but I’ll have to break down the film to confirm my theory.
This was a fun game. That’s the simplest way I can put it. The NBA’s great because on any given night a couple of different guys can all lose their minds simultaneously and get buckets leading to a back and forth game. Davis was the headliner, of course, but a slew of his teammates played well — Hill, Cunningham and Crawford each having out of body experiences — while Kemba and Batum fought all night to keep the Hornets in the game is what makes the NBA so fun.
Happy birthday, Anthony Davis. Let’s do it again next year.