NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis sat on the bench wearing a white, long-sleeve shirt over his Pelicans jersey and a satisfied smile on his face.
It was the fourth quarter, and Davis was getting the type of rest he needed — and earned.
Davis had 28 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes, then watched New Orleans' reserves close out a comfortable 110-88 victory over the reeling Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.
"It was fun to watch," Davis said.
The Pelicans were hoping for a convincing victory before embarking on a three-game road trip rife with playoff implications.
"This is a huge three games and that's why we wanted to play well tonight — to give us that confidence going into the road trip and try to get all three," Davis said. "We know where we are."
The Pelicans' second straight victory left them two games behind Oklahoma City for the Western Conference's final playoff spot before the Thunder played at Phoenix later Sunday night.
New Orleans has nine games left; six are on the road, where the Pelicans have gone 14-21.
Omer Asik had 15 points and Eric Gordon 12 for New Orleans, which shot 57.3 percent.
Andrew Wiggins had 20 points and Zach LaVine 17 for the Timberwolves, who were hurt by 21 turnovers that the Pelicans converted into 22 points.
"When you turn the ball over as much as we did, those are leading to points and that's why the other team's field goal percentage ends up being so high, because they're scoring out of your offense," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "We made some bad decisions."
Robbie Hummel returned to Minnesota's lineup after missing 29 games with a fractured right hand, while Anthony Bennett came back from a right ankle sprain that sidelined him 18 games. In limited minutes, Hummel had six points and Bennett just two as the Wolves lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
Meanwhile, starting center Gorgui Dieng left in the first half after getting hit in the head, which further disrupted the chemistry of a team that has seen constant lineup shuffles lately, largely because of injuries.
"You could see that AB especially was rusty. I thought Robbie did OK," Saunders said. "You just want to try to get some continuity with your guys playing and it's been tough."
Quincy Pondexter, Norris Cole and Alexis Ajinca each scored 10 for New Orleans.
Minnesota was as close as 53-49 early in the third quarter after LaVine hit a 3 and added a slam dunk.
The Pelicans responded with a 9-2 spurt that began with Asik's dunk and included five points by Davis on a pair of layups, one of which became a three-point play when he was fouled by former LSU standout Justin Hamilton.
Wiggins scored five points during a 7-0 Minnesota run that got the Wolves back within single digits at the end of the third quarter, but New Orleans pulled away for good soon after.
The Pelicans scored the game's first seven points and led 25-11 late in the first quarter, when Davis scored his ninth point on a free throw.
Minnesota closed the gap in the second quarter, when Wiggins threw down a pair of high-flying dunks and scored his first eight points.
"We just didn't come out strong in the first quarter," Wiggins said. "That hurt us the entire game and we spent the rest of the game trying to come back from the hole we dug ourselves."
Bennett's free throws got the Wolves as close as 41-39 before New Orleans ended the period on a 9-2 run highlighted by Tyreke Evans' 3 and Asik's dunk, giving the Pelicans a 50-41 halftime lead.
Timberwolves: Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio missed his sixth straight game with a sore left ankle, but Saunders said he hoped Rubio could return for the Wolves' next game. ... Kevin Garnett missed his 12th straight game. Initially, he'd been sidelined by left knee soreness, but Saunders said Garnett was ill on Sunday and stayed in the team hotel in New Orleans.
Pelicans: While New Orleans point guard Jrue Holiday (lower right leg injury) missed his 36th straight game and forward Ryan Anderson (sprained right knee) missed his 18th straight, coach Monty Williams said he is planning on both being back in the lineup before the regular season ends on April 15.
Timberwolves: Visit Utah on Monday.
Pelicans: Visit Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
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Posted on Mon, March 30, 2015
by BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer