Alvin Gentry knew he needed Anthony Davis.
The New Orleans Pelicans coach didn’t get his star at 100 percent. It was still enough.
Davis left with a right hip injury after a first-quarter collision with Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin and missed the rest of the first half.
When he came back early in the third quarter, he was moving slowly and only scored three points, matching the three he had before the injury. However, he also had five blocks and nine rebounds against Griffin and Andre Drummond to help the Pelicans win 116-108.
“Just having Anthony on the floor means everything,” Gentry said. “He might have been closer to 50 percent than 100 percent, but he was still giving us great defense and grabbing big rebounds.”
With Davis missing or ineffective on the offensive end, Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle took over. Holiday scored 37 points on 14-of-22 shooting and Randle added 28 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“We just executed our game plan,” Randle said. “Everything was coming extremely easily for Jrue and when he gets rolling, he doesn’t miss.”
Griffin scored 35 points for Detroit, Andre Drummond had 23 points and 19 rebounds, and Langston Galloway added a season-best 24.
“Even when Anthony is out, that’s a very solid team with a lot of weapons,” Griffin said. “We knew how we wanted to handle Jrue, but we didn’t execute.”
The Pistons have lost four straight.
“Jrue Holiday was a really tough challenge for Bruce (Brown) to handle by himself, and even when we sent Reggie (Jackson) over to help, he still had his way with us,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We are getting great looks on the other end, but we’ve got to knock them down.”
Drummond had 10 offensive rebounds for the 22nd time in his career — Tyson Chandler is second among active players with 15 — but Gentry thought his defense did just enough against Detroit’s center.
“You can block him out on every shot, and he’s just going to go over you and get rebounds,” Gentry said. “I thought we got the big rebounds we needed down the stretch.”
Holiday had 18 points in the first half, and New Orleans led by 11 before the Pistons cut it to 56-50.
Davis returned at the first stoppage in the third quarter and helped the Pelicans take a 78-62 lead midway through the period. He was clearly limited on the offensive end but was able to get stops on defense.
Griffin and Galloway combined for 26 points in the period and had the Pistons within four points until Tim Frazier’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer made it 91-84 going to the fourth.
“We were getting a lot of stops late in the quarter, and that lets me get into transition and get my shots,” Galloway said. “We just needed to keep that going.”
Detroit quickly narrowed the gap to 93-91, but the Pelicans responded with a 7-1 run to take an eight-point lead.
“I think we lead the NBA in wide-open shots, but we have to start knocking them down,” Griffin said.
Drummond missed two free throws with 4:03 left, then fouled Randle at the other end. He hit both shots to make it 107-98, and the Pelicans held on to win.
Pelicans: New Orleans has won 16 of its last 20 against Detroit, including 12 of the last 13. … Gentry, who coached the Pistons from 1997-2000, is 16-5 against them as a head coach.
Pistons: Galloway has hit at least four 3-pointers six times in the last 15 games. .. Reggie Jackson missed his first five shots and didn’t score until 4:26 remained in the game.
DAVIS IN BOSTON?
Davis went for more medical tests after the game, and Gentry wasn’t sure if he would play Monday in Boston.
“A lot of times, it is the next day that these really hurt,” he said. “We’re not even 30 games into the season, and we’re going to be very cautious with this. If he’s ready, he’ll play, but only if he’s ready.”
Pelicans: At Boston on Monday night.
Pistons: At Philadelphia on Monday night.
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