Pelicans use big first half to squash Suns
PHOENIX — The duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins is hard enough for most New Orleans Pelicans opponents to deal with. But when the outside game is clicking as well, things get really tough.
Davis had 23 points and nine rebounds, Cousins added 19 points and 10 rebounds and the Pelicans hit nine 3-pointers during a season-best, 72-point first half to run away from the Phoenix Suns 115-91 on Friday.
“We are just playing for each other, trusting each other and whoever is open gets the ball,” said Davis, who led his team in scoring for the 12th time in 19 games. “We passed up good shots for great shots and trust our teammate to make the right play. We don’t care who scores as long as the ball goes in the basket.”
With a back-to-back game against Golden State in Oakland on Saturday, coach Alvin Gentry had the luxury of resting his stars in the fourth quarter to play the Warriors.
“We started the game the right way, moved the basketball, took what they gave us and played the whole 48 minutes,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “Our big guys are willing passers. If any double teams come up, they’re willing to throw it out and we shot the ball well in that first half.”
Jrue Holiday added 18 points for New Orleans, which has won three in a row to match its longest winning streak of the season. The Pelicans are 11-8 this season, their best 19-game start since going 13-6 to open the 2010-11 season.
The Pelicans hit 9 of 15 3-pointers during the first half, taking a 30-point lead at intermission. Darius Miller had three 3-pointers and Davis and Cousins had two each.
“Our teammates have been incredible giving us options to pass to,” Cousins said. “When everybody is touching the ball, everybody is having fun and enjoying the game. That leads to wins.”
New Orleans was 0-for-12 from behind the arc in the second half — but the Suns were 0-for-7 themselves and couldn’t take advantage. It was the first time both teams failed to hit a 3-pointer in an NBA half since the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards were a combined 0-for-18 in the first half on Feb. 9, 2015.
TJ Warren scored 18 points and Tyler Ulis had a season-high 17 for the Suns (7-13), who have lost nine of their last 12 games.
“For the most part, we couldn’t contain anybody,” Suns interim coach Jay Triano said. “We couldn’t keep anyone in front of us and when we don’t do that, there are angles to the basket, somebody helps and they kick it out for a three. You have to be able to contain a little bit.”
Devin Booker managed just 13 points, 10 below his average, in 33 minutes on 4-for-12 shooting.
“Once they started making tough shots, we get down on ourselves,” Booker said.
Davis and Cousins came into the game averaging a combined 52.3 points. They didn’t need that kind of production Friday but got right to work against the Suns.
They had 20 of 33 New Orleans points and 12 of 14 rebounds in the first quarter, combining for 11 points during a 15-2 run, capped by a 10-foot jumper by Davis that gave the Pelicans a 25-15 lead with 3:17 left.
New Orleans led 33-21 after one quarter and opened the second with a 9-2 run, with a 3-pointer by Miller with 8:47 left stretching the lead to 19 at 42-23. Davis capped the 39-point quarter with two baskets in the final 30 seconds to make it 72-42 Pelicans at the half.
New Orleans led by as many as 35 in the third quarter and the Suns never got closer than 25. The Pelicans didn’t make a single 3-pointer in the second half, but it didn’t matter.
NOTES: Suns F Jared Dudley returned to the lineup after missing six games with a right knee contusion. ... Phoenix tried to combat New Orleans tandem of F Anthony Davis and C DeMarcus Cousins by starting two centers in Greg Monroe and Tyson Chandler and moving F Marquese Chriss to the bench. ... Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry on not worrying too much about matchups: “We try to keep our big guys (Cousins and Davis) on the floor as much as we possibly can. We see a lot of lineups. It might take them a little while but they get it figured out.” ... Suns G Devin Booker and Davis each have seven 30-point games this season, tied for second-most in the NBA with Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee. LeBron James of Cleveland and Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks lead the league with eight each.