He had 34 points and a career-high 26 rebounds in Brooklyn, but the Pelicans never gave themselves a chance by playing a defenseless first half in which they surrendered 73 points. They played much better in the second half, but ended up losing 126-121.
In Davis’ return from a one-game absence because of an illness, the Pelicans wasted what they said was the first game with at least 34 points, 26 rebounds and three blocks since Elvin Hayes on Dec. 2, 1973.
“Him having 32 or 34 points and 26 rebounds, that’s not unusual for us,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “Maybe the 26 rebounds, but the points and 15, 18, 20 rebounds is what we’re accustomed to getting from him, so this is not one of those ‘Oh, wow’ games. It’s pretty typical. We’ve just got to be able to step up collectively and be able to find a way to win a game like that.”
The Pelicans can offer Davis a massive contract extension this summer, but what they haven’t been able to give him is a healthy supporting cast. Point guard Elfrid Payton just returned Monday from a broken finger that sidelined him more than a month, but forward Nikola Mirotic remains out with an injured right ankle.
The Pelicans’ reserves managed a paltry five points, getting outscored by 50 by their Brooklyn counterparts. It was their seventh loss in nine games, dropping them to 17-22 in the powerful West, where only Phoenix sits below them.
“We can’t sleep in the West. We know that. It’s a loaded conference,” Davis said. “I think Brooklyn had the same record as us and they were ninth. And we’re in 14th. So it’s a loaded conference. We’ve got to be able to put a streak of wins together, three out of four, four out of five and try to get back in the mix.”
If they don’t, the questions about Davis’ future in New Orleans will grow louder. But he’s thinking about the recent past, when the Pelicans swept Portland in the first round of last year’s playoffs, then opened this season by pounding Houston en route to a 4-0 start before the injuries began.
Davis still believes his team can get back to that.
“We know what we did last year, we know how good a team we are this year,” he said.
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