NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis wasn’t necessarily supposed to follow Denver’s Ty Lawson to the basket.
But the second-year player saw an opening.
In one fell swoop, the rangy 6-foot-10 leapt up, pinned Lawson’s layup attempt against the backboard and grabbed the ball.
Tyreke Evans eventually wound up with the ball and, with strong individual effort, did what Lawson could do – converted a layup.
The Pelicans never led by fewer than four points and, for the fourth time this season, can say they’re on a three-game win streak after beating Denver 111-107 in overtime Sunday,
“That kind of defensive play is the stuff that gives you so much confidence when you know you have a guy who can cover up on the backside,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said of Davis’ block. “It’s like playing with David Robinson.”
Robinson is a Hall of Famer.
The way Davis played, he might be a future one.
By finishing with 32 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks, he became the youngest player in NBA history to reach that threshold by more than two years. He’s the first-ever player in franchise history to score 30-plus points, grab 15-plus rebounds and have five or more blocks in a game.
In the joyous post-game locker room, however, he wouldn’t take credit, passing it around elsewhere.
“That’s a testament to my team,” Davis said. “They’re giving me the ball where I can score and cutting hard so their man can’t help. Making big shots, playing defense, having my back if I try to go block a shot, boxing out and letting me get the rebounds – it’s big.
“It all goes to the team and not just me. I can’t do it by myself.”
Against Denver, that certainly proved true. He only was able to get to those statistical levels by playing every bit of overtime, when he scored four points, grabbed six rebounds and had that block.
And the Pelicans nearly didn’t get to those extra five minutes.
Initially, Williams drew up a play that was executed nearly perfectly, guard Eric Gordon bouncing a pass to a cutting Davis in the lane. But the big-mans dunk attempt missed, and the ball went out of bounds off of the Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried.
The next inbounds play didn’t go nearly as planned.
Set up for Davis and Gordon, the ball was tipped and New Orleans’ Anthony Morrow recovered. Less than six seconds remained, however, and it was in his hands to make a play with the Pelicans down 94-92.
“First thought was just get the ball and don’t let it go out of bounds,” said Morrow, who finished with 14 points off the bench. “I saw it get tipped and I didn’t know exactly who hit the ball. I wanted to grab the ball and make a play as fast as I could.”
He drove to the free-throw line with Lawson on his hip, stopped at the free-throw line and lofted an off-balance shot that went in.
“He’ll tell you that’s what he works on every day,” Williams said of Morrow. “He works himself to exhaustion. I think it’s for moments like that so when he steps in the game, he’s ready.”
Evans finished with 20 points while Austin Rivers had 13 and five assists.