NEW ORLEANS (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins just lost his head band, not his head.
It was a good look for him, and the surging New Orleans Pelicans.
The mercurial Cousins enjoyed his most prolific performance yet with the Pelicans, pouring in 41 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, and New Orleans beat the Memphis Grizzlies 95-82 on Tuesday night.
"It feels good to finally tear down that wall, break out of the shell," Cousins said. "They've been telling me since I've been here to just go out and be aggressive and just be myself, and I think I was able to do that tonight."
Cousins' slew of highlights included a pivotal fourth-quarter play in which the 6-foot-11 All-Star was fouled hard enough to send his white head band fluttering to the floor. Cousins remained locked on target, sinking a put-back for the front end of a three-point play and a 10-point lead with 5:31 left. As fans went wild, Cousins leaned back, clenched his fists down by his hips and let out a triumphant yell.
More than two minutes earlier, he'd been assessed his fifth foul and didn't like the call. But he didn't risk a technical foul by arguing, and subsequently avoided fouling out while continuing to dominate offensively.
Cousins hit five 3-pointers, tying a career high. He made five shots inside while being fouled for three-point plays and had the jubilant home crowd chanting his nickname, "Boogie."
"It felt good to be embraced," Cousins said. "It felt very good."
Cousins also blocked three shots and assisted on Anthony Davis' crowd-pleasing alley-oop dunk.
"That was my favorite play of the game," Cousins said, noting that he and Davis had talked "a lot" about making such a play part of their repertoire when they're on the court together. "Nobody can jump with the dude."
Davis added 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Pelicans, who won for the fifth time in six games while snapping Memphis' four-game winning streak. The Pelicans are now 3 1/2 games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot with 11 to play.
Davis, the Pelicans' top scorer this season, said he has no problem deferring to Cousins.
"When he's going like that, I just get out of the way," Davis said. "He was in a groove, so we were going to find a way to get him the ball and let him go to work."
Mike Conley 16 scored points for Memphis, while JaMychal Green and Troy Daniels each scored 12.
Marc Gasol, who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, lambasted his team for crumbling in the second half, when the Grizzlies were outscored 61-41.
"Everything we built over the last four games, we threw away," Gasol said. "I can't find the reason why, but the consistency we built was really fragile tonight."
The Pelicans rallied after an anemic first half in which they scored only 34 points on 28.6 percent shooting. Memphis, however, failed to fully take advantage, allowing a lead as large as 12 to dwindle to seven at halftime.
Conley's 3 made it 46-36 early in the third quarter, but then the Pelicans exploded for 21 straight points, starting with Davis's 10-foot jumper and Cousins' 3.
"It seemed like whatever I tried just came back and backfired on me during that point," Memphis coach David Fizdale said. "Cousins was phenomenal tonight."
Grizzlies: Fizdale gave starting shooting guard Tony Allen the night off, saying he wanted Allen to rest his sore left knee so it didn't get worse. ... Rookie Wayne Seldon, signed by Memphis immediately after concluding a 10-day contract with New Orleans, started against the Pelicans. ... Zach Randolph grabbed 10 rebounds.
Pelicans: Jordan Crawford hit a pair of 3s and finished with 10 points, the seventh time in eight games with New Orleans that he's scored at least that many. ... New Orleans' 34 points in the first half matched its lowest halftime point total of the season.
Grizzlies: Visit San Antonio on Thursday night.
Pelicans: Visit Houston on Friday night.
Posted on Wed, March 22, 2017
by By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer