NEW ORLEANS (AP/WWJ) — Anthony Davis scored a season-high 53 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked five shots, and the New Orleans Pelicans extended their winning streak to six with a 125-116 victory over the hapless Phoenix Suns on Monday night.
It was the 12th 50-point performance in the NBA this season, and fourth highest total of the year behind James Harden (60, 56) and LeBron James (57).
Jrue Holiday scored 20 points for the Pelicans, whose season-best unbeaten run has pulled them into a tie with Portland for fifth place in the Western Conference despite being without All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, who was lost for the season Jan. 26 with a torn Achilles.
Emeka Okafor, brought back to the NBA for the first time since 2013 about a week after Cousins’ injury, scored 14 points.
Devin Booker had 40 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix, which lost its 10th straight and still has not won this month. T.J. Warren added 23 points and Josh Jackson had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns, who led by as many as 17 in the second quarter but fell behind for good with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
New Orleans native Elfrid Payton scored 16 points, and his layup pulled Phoenix within 116-114 with 2:29 left, but the Pelicans scored the next five points on Darius Miller’s 3 and Holiday’s driving dunk, and Phoenix did not threaten again.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry angrily called a couple timeouts in the first half after watching Phoenix easily find open shots — and make them.
The Suns entered the game ranked 28th in field goal percentage, shooting 44 percent for the season. But they scored at a blistering pace early, with 36 in the first quarter on about 54 percent accuracy. Phoenix led by as many as 17 when Jackson soared down the lane for a one-handed putback dunk and followed up with free throws on the next possession to make it 52-35 with more than seven minutes still remaining in the second quarter.
Davis helped the Pelicans get back within single digits by halftime with crowd-pleasing plays on both ends. He dunked three times — twice on alley-oops — to go with a tip-in, three free throws and two blocked shots during the rest of the second period, and New Orleans trailed 65-58 when the half ended.
Suns: Phoenix played the last 4:48 with no player taller than 6-foot-8 because their two available 7-foot-1 players, Dragan Bender and Alex Len, along with 6-foot-10 Marquese Chriss, had all fouled out. Bender fouled out with 9:20 remaining and Chriss exited with 8:47 left. … Booker has 18 30-point games this season … The Suns made five of their first six 3-point attempts before missing 16 of their last 18.
Pelicans: F Nikola Mirotic had 10 points and eight rebounds. … New Orleans announced it has signed the 6-foot-10 Okafor through the rest of the season. The 35-year-old former UConn star, who is coming back from a herniated disk that sidelined him four-plus seasons, returned to the NBA with New Orleans on a 10-day contract on Feb. 3. He played in his seventh game and started for the fifth time. … Rookie Walter Lemon Jr., signed to a 10-day contract last Wednesday, scored his first career points on a floater high off the glass late in the first quarter. That was his only shot. … Twice in the second quarter, Pelicans players — Lemon and Holiday — turned the ball over by stepping over the end line before releasing an inbound pass.
Suns: At Memphis on Wednesday night.
Pelicans: At San Antonio on Wednesday night.