NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are providing increasing proof that "tall ball" could work for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Davis had 30 points and 13 rebounds, Cousins added 29 points and 16 rebounds in his return from a two-game absence, and New Orleans beat the Dallas Mavericks 121-118 on Wednesday night.
"I know it's a small-ball era," Cousins said, referring to an increasing trend toward smaller lineups that rely on good shooting, speed and ball movement to create scoring chances. "I think we've got a chance to change things — you know, change the way the style of play of basketball is going right now.
"It's just a matter of time."
After losing six of their first seven games with Cousins in the lineup, the Pelicans have won four of the last five in which the 6-foot-11, 270-pound All-Star has played. New Orleans also has won seven of its past 10 games overall.
Returning from a right ankle sprain, Cousins played 40 minutes. His baskets included a 29-foot 3-pointer at the end of the first half and he was 10 of 12 at the free-throw line. Davis' highlights included an offensive rebound and dunk with 1:50 left to help New Orleans hold on. Davis' dynamism was on full display in the third quarter, when he leapt to deflect Wesley Matthews' pass and began breaking up court as Jrue Holiday corralled the loose ball. Holiday quickly flipped a pass ahead to Davis, who dribbled around Yogi Ferrell and finished with a soaring one-handed jam.
Speaking before the game, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle predicted that the longer Davis and Cousins played together, the harder they'd become to stop.
"They're both great players," Carlisle said. "If those two guys stay together long enough, they're going to figure it out and it's going to be murder dealing with them."
Apparently, that's already the case for some Pelicans opponents.
"They are a tough combo," said Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, who led the Mavs with 23 points. "Once they have a full training camp under them next year, if they stay healthy, they are going to be a load."
Harrison Barnes scored 19 and Seth Curry 18 for the Mavericks, who have lost three straight. Dallas had a final shot to tie the game as time expired, but Matthews' 3-point attempt missed.
Mavericks guard Devin Harris was ejected early in the second quarter for angrily protesting calls made by official Ben Taylor. Harris had to be restrained by teammates during a tirade in response to his first of two quick technical fouls.
"I've never seen him that upset," said Carlisle, who also was called for a technical foul after Harris' ejection.
Harris appeared bothered by being called for a personal foul after a collision with Pelicans guard Jordan Crawford that sent Harris crashing to the court. Earlier in the quarter, no foul had been called when Harris wound up flat on his back following a collision with New Orleans guard E'Twaun Moore.
"He was getting hit in some picks and took some elbows and he kept getting the fouls," Nowitzki said. "He just reacted — rightfully so."
Shortly after Harris' ejection, New Orleans built its first double-digit lead on consecutive 3s by Dante Cunningham, who finished with 15 points.
The lead got as large as 14 points when Holiday's 3 made it 57-43 late in the second quarter.
Dallas kept chipping away and briefly regained the lead when Ferrell, who had 15 points, hit a mid-range jumper to make it 100-99 with 7:42 left. But Holiday, who had 18 points, answered with a short jumper. And after Nerlens Noel missed an alley-oop dunk, Crawford added a 3 to give the Pelicans a 104-100 lead. Crawford capped his 15-point effort with a clutch 22-foot jumper with 47 seconds left.
Mavericks: Carlisle announced before the game that he'd decided to rest 7-foot-2 center Salah Mejri because of right knee soreness. ... J.J. Barea had 11 assists for Dallas.
Pelicans: Davis now has at least 30 points and 13 rebounds in four straight games, making him the first NBA player to do so since Shaquille O'Neal in April 2000. ... Davis and Cunningham had an awkward moment when they chased a loose ball out of bounds. Cunningham dove over the scorer's table in a failed effort to get the ball while Davis, close behind also crashed over the table, landing in a prone position on top of Cunningham.
Mavericks: Visit Memphis on Friday night.
Pelicans: Host Sacramento on Friday night.
Posted on Thu, March 30, 2017
by By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer