NEW ORLEANS (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins remains very bullish on the Pelicans’ potential.
New Orleans’ response to being down double digits early to normally steady San Antonio offered evidence to back up Cousins’ forecast.
Anthony Davis had 29 points and 11 rebounds, Cousins added 24 points and 15 rebounds, and the Pelicans turned an early 15-point hole into a 30-point lead before cruising to a 107-90 victory over the Spurs on Wednesday night.
“We’ll be scary. This is basically a brand new team, a brand new identity,” Cousins said, noting that starting point guard Rajon Rondo has only played in five games after missing the first 13 with a core muscle injury.
“With Rajon coming back … now we’ve got to find a whole new way of playing — not saying we’re switching up our style but just getting him accustomed to playing with us and us playing with him.”
Rondo played less than 23 minutes, scoring six points to go with five rebounds and four assists, but the Pelicans appeared more fluid and organized when he was in the game, particularly on the defensive end.
The Spurs shot only 39.8 percent (35 of 88) for the game and finished 6 of 24 from 3-point range.
“The defense is what’s going to make our offense go and tonight we did a great job,” Davis said. “When we do that, we’re a tough team to beat. We really don’t like to run plays every time down. If we can get a stop and push it up the floor and get an easy basket in transition, then we’d much rather do that.”
Jrue Holiday scored 13 points and Darius Miller chipped in 13 on four 3-pointers for the Pelicans.
Pau Gasol had 17 points and LaMarcus Aldridge 16 in a largely frustrating night for San Antonio. Gasol was called for three fouls in the second quarter and was subbed out with his team clinging to a 40-39 lead. By halftime, New Orleans led 50-42.
The Pelicans “played well for three quarters. They were the more aggressive team and they made shots, executed well,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We played very unwisely in a lot of different situations for the last three quarters.”
Rudy Gay scored 19 points for the Spurs, who led 17-2 on Patty Mills’ 22-foot jumper about half way through the first quarter.
New Orleans closed the first half on a 15-2 run during which Davis had six points on a 10-foot jumper, a finger roll and alley-oop dunk.
The Pelicans blew the game open by closing the third quarter with a 26-6 run fueled largely by Davis, who scored 12 of his points in the period and also had a steal to set up one of Miller’s 3s.
“They just picked up their intensity and we never picked up ours,” Aldridge said. We had turnovers and did not move the ball as well, so they were able to take advantage of that. … They outplayed us tonight.”
Spurs: Dejounte Murray scored 14 points and Kyle Anderson had 12 points. … Gasol was San Antonio’s leading rebounder with nine. … Gasol was 7 of 11 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. … The Spurs lost for just the third time in 10 games.
Pelicans: Cousins received his fourth technical foul this season for criticizing officials after no foul was called when the ball was tipped away from him. … Cousins attempted seven 3s, making one. He also turned the ball over six times. … New Orleans outrebounded San Antonio 45-39 and outscored the Spurs 50-36 in the paint.
Davis, now in his sixth NBA season, reached 7,938 career points with his last basket against the Spurs. That moved Davis into second in scoring in New Orleans franchise history ahead of Chris Paul, who had 7,936 in six seasons from 2005-06 to 2010-11.
“It’s not even a full six years in and to be 24 and do it, it’s great,” Davis said. “We want to bring championships here, and do way more. So for me, this is just one of many accomplishments I’m looking forward to getting.”
Spurs: At Charlotte on Saturday night.
Pelicans: At Phoenix on Friday night.