OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant didn't play for the Thunder on Sunday, but it seemed like he showed up in a different uniform.
Anthony Davis put in a Durant-like effort, scoring 38 efficient points to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 101-99 victory over Oklahoma City.
It was the third-highest point total of Davis' career, and like Durant, his points piled up quickly and seemed effortless. He made 16 of 22 shots and had 12 rebounds while doing a little bit of everything. Like Durant, he scored inside and outside, put the ball on the floor and showed incredible grace for a nearly 7-foot player.
Davis entered the game as the league's No. 4 scorer and No. 1 shot blocker, and there is already talk the 21-year-old forward could follow Durant as league MVP.
"As far as MVP, I'm not even worried about that," Davis said. "It's too early in the season to get involved in that conversation. Personally, I think so. But even to hear my name talked about that, it's a blessing, it's an honor. I've been putting in a lot of work all season. I wanted to come out this season and be aggressive. I think Team USA helped me to do that coming into this season."
Durant missed his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Durant is day-to-day.
Jrue Holiday scored 11 points and matched a career high with 15 assists for the Pelicans, who said Durant's absence took nothing away from their victory. New Orleans was coming off a 26-point loss at home against Portland the previous night and simply wanted a win.
Russell Westbrook scored 29 points for the Thunder, but he missed a 3-pointer that could have given Oklahoma City the lead in the closing seconds. Reggie Jackson scored 19 points and Steven Adams added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
With the score tied at 99, Holiday stole the ball from Westbrook, then found Davis for a breakaway dunk that put the Pelicans ahead with 2:58 to play.
With the Pelicans still up 101-99, Westbrook missed a 3-pointer and New Orleans rebounded. The Pelicans' Tyreke Evans missed everything on a mid-range jumper, and New Orleans was called for a shot clock violation with 10 seconds remaining.
Westbrook started to drive to the hoop, then dribbled back out and took a 3-pointer that bounced off the front of the rim. The Thunder couldn't get the rebound, and the Pelicans ran out the clock.
"Once I tried to attack, they stopped me, so I got the ball back and I went for the win," Westbrook said. "I just missed."
The Pelicans held the Thunder scoreless for the final 3:46.
"It's one of those games, you're glad that you came out on top of, and you feel like if you can learn from this, you'll be a better team, because they play the same way every night, and we withstood that," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said.
Davis scored 21 points in the first half on 9-for-14 shooting to help the Pelicans take a 53-48 lead.
Thunder: Durant missed the first 17 games of the season with a fractured bone in his right foot, and the Thunder went 5-12. Oklahoma City won seven of its first eight after his return. He is averaging 22.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
Pelicans: New Orleans forced the Thunder into nine turnovers in the first half and 16 for the game. ... Starters other than Davis shot a combined 12 for 37 on the night.
GOOD RUSS, BAD RUSS
Westbrook made 2 of 9 shots and had no assists and two turnovers in the fourth quarter. Before that, he shot 8 of 18 shots with eight assists and four turnovers.
"I'm not going to keep answering questions about me not passing now when we lose," he said. "When we won eight (actually seven) in a row, nobody said nothing about not passing, so I don't want to hear it now."
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"My job is to attack when the fourth quarter comes," Westbrook said. "My job is to stay in attack mode and try to score and try to make plays happen. If I miss, I miss. I'm going to live and die by that every time, every night, regardless of what happens."
Thunder: Host Portland on Tuesday
Pelicans: Visit Indiana on Tuesday.
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Posted on Mon, December 22, 2014
by CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer