The New Orleans Pelicans seem headed for a third straight last-place finish in the Southwest Division, but Anthony Davis is certainly providing hope for the future.
Davis looks to build on a superb performance and help the Pelicans continue their dominance of the league-worst Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.
New Orleans (24-37) is in 12th place in the Western Conference and had lost eight in a row before Davis had 28 points and 15 rebounds in a 132-125 road win over the Lakers on Tuesday night.
Davis hit seven of his first eight shots after going 5 for 20 from the floor while totaling 21 points and eight boards over the previous two games.
"We needed this win to get back on track and we needed to get back in rhythm," he said. "We came out and played with a lot of intensity. I was just trying to come out and be aggressive. I know I didn't play the best in the last two games, so I had to be aggressive."
The All-Star forward, who turns 21 next week, leads the Pelicans with 20.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. He has a chance to become the youngest player to average at least 20.0 points, 10.0 boards and 3.0 blocked shots since blocks were first recorded in 1973-74.
Davis can become the first player of any age to hit those marks since Shaquille O'Neal did it with the Lakers in 1999-00.
"For a guy that sets such a high bar - to be 20 years old and have all those expectations - who at 20 is playing like him? In the history of the game, there are very few," coach Monty Williams said. "So when he has nights off, and everybody wonders what's wrong, he's entitled. The way he's played, and as good as he's gotten, I don't know who else is going to win Most Improved Player."
Davis got in foul trouble and was limited to 12 points and one rebound in 19 minutes of a 102-98 road win over the Bucks (12-48) on Feb. 12.
Eric Gordon picked up the slack with 21 points, and he scored 28 against the Lakers.
The Pelicans have won 13 of the past 15 meetings with the Bucks and 11 straight at home since a 108-93 defeat Jan. 27, 2003.
Milwaukee has dropped 11 of 12 on the road while surrendering an average of 106.6 points and 48.0 percent shooting, including 42.0 from 3-point range.
The Bucks fell to 2-21 against the West with a 116-102 loss to visiting Sacramento on Wednesday.
"You can't dwell on it too much," said guard Brandon Knight, who had 25 points. "In the moment, of course you want to win and play well. We might not be vying for a playoff position, but I think we're playing to build the right habits so that we can come into next season strong."
Knight has scored 22 points in each of his last two meetings with New Orleans.
Bucks starting forward Ersan Ilyasova won't play due to a one-game suspension for punching Sacramento's Reggie Evans in the stomach Wednesday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved