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NEW ORLEANS — Now that the New Orleans Pelicans have climbed to .500 for the first time in 981 days, they certainly don’t want to stop there.
The 3-3 Pelicans, winners of three of their past four, will host the improved Orlando Magic (4-2) on Monday night at the Smoothie King Center.
New Orleans is fresh off one of its most impressive performances of the season in the opener of a three-game homestand.
Anthony Davis had 30 points and 14 rebounds, DeMarcus Cousins posted his seventh career triple-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, and Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore combined for 53 points and nine assists in a 123-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
The Pelicans, who started 1-11 in 2015 and 0-8 in 2016, had a season-high 33 assists on 49 made field goals against the Cavs. They are showing signs of moving the ball efficiently in coach Alvin Gentry’s Twin Towers offense.
“We are just starting to understand what it takes to win games,” Cousins said. “Everybody on the floor is touching the ball. It’s not being stuck on one side of the floor.
“That was kind of our issue in the beginning, especially when it came to random situations. We would just keep it on one side of the floor, and it made other teams’ job easier to guard us. So we are understanding that and we are in a good rhythm.”
Davis returned to the lineup after missing most of the previous two games with left knee tendinitis. He scored 10 consecutive points in a two-minute span of the fourth quarter to put the Cavaliers away, but he was more excited to talk about Cousins, who followed a 41-point, 23-rebound performance in his return to Sacramento on Thursday night with the triple-double.
In six games, Cousins is averaging 32.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
“He had a helluva week,” Davis said of Cousins after the Cleveland game. “He had a huge game in Sacramento, then to follow it up with a triple-double, that is usually tough to do.
“When you play in an emotional game like that, then everyone is looking at you to see what you’re going to do next. He came here and put up a triple-double. I’m glad to have him on our team. We’re just trying to get this thing rolling.”
After whipping San Antonio 114-87 on Friday, the Magic fell 120-113 on the road to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night.
The Magic (4-2) allowed the Hornets to shoot 54 percent from the field and were outrebounded 59-40.
Jonathon Simmons led Orlando with 27 points, including seven straight in the fourth quarter, and Evan Fournier added 23.
The Pelicans and Magic split two meetings last year, with each team winning on its home court. Davis had 21 points and 13 rebounds in a 118-98 home victory on Jan. 18.
Cousins played once against Orlando last season when he was a member of the Kings, scoring 33 points on 60 percent shooting. He also had seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block.
Magic guard Elfrid Payton, a New Orleans native, is expected to miss his second consecutive game with a strained left hamstring.
After scoring at least 114 points in each of their first five games, the Magic fell one point shy against Charlotte.
Orlando coach Frank Vogel said the three-game road trip to face Charlotte, New Orleans and Memphis would be “an early measuring stick.”
“We can’t make too many rash judgments about a single game or a series (of games),” Vogel said. “We have a very difficult trip against three really good teams that are tough to beat in their buildings and have all-star-level players.
“It will be a measuring stick, but like we’ve said all along, we’re going to keep an even keel whatever the results are, positive or negative.”