NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 32 points and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Detroit Pistons 115-99 on Thursday night for their fourth victory in five games.
Tyreke Evans had 22 points and 10 assists for the Pelicans, who raced to a 72-53 halftime lead and never allowed Detroit to get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
The game was the first for New Orleans since starting shooting guard Eric Gordon was ruled out for four to six weeks with a fractured ring finger in his shooting hand. Norris Cole was moved into the starting lineup and responded with 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Ryan Anderson scored 13 points and Omer Asik added 12.
Andre Drummond had 19 points and 22 rebounds for Detroit, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 23 and Brandon Jennings 20.
Despite Drummond’s prowess in the paint, New Orleans dominated inside, scoring 60 points from close range.
Two nights earlier, after the Pelicans had overcome an early 17-point hole to beat Minnesota, Davis chastised his team for failing to start the game with the same intensity it showed in coming back.
The message apparently stuck. The Pelicans shot 65.9 percent (29 of 44) in the first half, when they also made all 10 of their free throws and set a season high for points in a half with 72.
Davis scored 15 points in the opening half and Evans scored 14, hitting six of his first eight shots, including both 3s he took. Anderson’s driving layup gave the Pelicans a 72-51 lead in the final minute of the second quarter.
Detroit shot 44 percent (19 of 43) in the opening half, not nearly enough to keep pace when it turned the ball over nine times in the first 24 minutes, leading to 16 Pelicans points.
Down 72-53 at halftime, Detroit trailed by as many as 23 in the third quarter before finally beginning to close the gap, more so with defense than offense.
New Orleans’ shooting percentage steadily dropped to the low 50s as the Detroit’s deficit briefly shrank to single digits.
Jennings hit a 3, a 9-foot step-back, a driving layup and a couple free throws during a 19-2 run spanning from late in the third quarter to early in the fourth. Stanley Johnson’s layup capped the run and pulled the Pistons to 90-81.
Evans responded with a driving layup and Davis added a mid-range jumper to push the Pelicans’ lead back to 13, and the gap remained in double digits the rest of the way.
Pistons: Detroit missed 22 of 29 3-point attempts. … The Pistons have lost seven straight to the Pelicans. … Drummond was seven rebounds short of his season and career high of 29 rebounds in a game.
Pelicans: The Pelicans’ franchise record for points in a half is 80, set last season. … Newly acquired guard Bryce Dejean-Jones was in the lineup as a reserve but did not play. … Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry elected to keep guard Jrue Holiday in a reserve point guard role rather than having him start at shooting guard for Gordon. He scored six points on an off shooting night (3 of 11).
Pistons: Visit Denver on Saturday night.
Pelicans: Host Milwaukee on Saturday night.