Wolves topple Pelicans after Davis’ ejection
NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis is usually the calm one and DeMarcus Cousins the fiery one in the New Orleans Pelicans’ pair of All-Star big men.
On Wednesday night, it was Davis who lost his cool, and he was ejected in the second quarter of New Orleans’ 120-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Andrew Wiggins scored 28 points to lead seven Timberwolves in double figures. Jimmy Butler and Gorgui Dieng supported Wiggins with 19 points each. Tyus Jones scored 16, Jamal Crawford had 12, Karl-Anthony Towns 11 and Taj Gibson 10. Towns and Gibson grabbed 10 rebounds apiece.
“(Davis’ ejection) was kind of a building thing,” said Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham, who started the second half in Davis’ place. “It kept escalating from one play to the next and then it erupted.”
Davis scored nine consecutive New Orleans points and was the game’s high scorer when he was called for an offensive foul midway through the second quarter. He was called for a technical after arguing the call, and Cousins stepped in to pull Davis away from the officials.
On the ensuing possession, Davis was called for a defensive foul as Towns attempted a shot. Davis immediately started arguing again and was called for another technical and ejected for the first time in his six-year career.
“That play was a big play,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s a hard game to officiate. It’s pretty physical in there. You probably could call a foul on every play when any of those (big) guys are matched up against each other. That was good fortune probably for us.
“But overall I thought we had a lot of guys. Gorgui had a great game. Jamal was terrific. That may have been (Wiggins’) best game as a pro in all-around play, not just the scoring, but the rebounding and the playmaking to go along with it.”
Davis left the arena without speaking to reporters.
NBA crew chief Ken Mauer said Davis was disciplined for running at an official and “cursing, swearing, using foul language.”
“It’s a complete joke,” said Cousins, who has been ejected 12 times in his eight-year career, including once this season. “What I don’t understand is that players are punished for playing off of emotions, but other people are allowed to and it is totally fine. It’s OK to coach off of emotion, judge a game off of emotions, and it’s bogus. I don’t understand why players aren’t allowed to play off of emotions. It’s a game of emotions.”
After Davis left the game, the Timberwolves extended their lead from 46-43 to 62-49 at halftime. Minnesota outscored New Orleans 34-20 in the second quarter.
“It was big,” Towns said of Davis’ ejection. “It got us the lead we needed. We had a chance to close out the opponent, and we did a great job doing that. At the end of the day, a win is a win.”
Jrue Holiday led New Orleans (11-10) with 27 points, Cousins and Davis had 17 each, and Darius Miller scored 12. Cousins pulled down 10 rebounds.
Minnesota took advantage of Davis’ absence to enjoy a 44-28 rebounding advantage.
“It was tough adjusting like that on the fly,” Cousins said. “We should have done a better job of regrouping, gathering ourselves and finishing the game as a team.”
The Pelicans scored the first four points of the third quarter, but Jones made a jumper and Butler hit a 3-pointer.
Cousins scored nine straight New Orleans points, but the Pelicans got no closer than nine points.
Wiggins scored 13 points in the period as Minnesota increased its lead to 93-76 after three quarters.
NOTES: G Tyus Jones started for the fourth consecutive game in place of injured Timberwolves PG Jeff Teague (Achilles). ... Minnesota, which lost at home to Washington 92-89 on Tuesday night, improved to 2-2 on the back end of back-to-back games. ... The Wolves shot 58 percent after the Pelicans had held each of their previous four opponents to less than 43 percent shooting. ... New Orleans had 27 assists, its 17th straight game with at least 20 assists. ... G Aaron Brooks, who scored five points in seven minutes, was the only Minnesota player to play during the first 47 minutes and not finish in double figures.