No love lost for Davis

Pelicans old boy hits 41 in 1st game back since Lakers move; James reaches 33,000 mark

LA Lakers forward Anthony Davis battling for the ball with New Orleans' Jrue Holiday. It was Davis' first game against his old team, the Pelicans, following his summer move.
LA Lakers forward Anthony Davis battling for the ball with New Orleans' Jrue Holiday. It was Davis' first game against his old team, the Pelicans, following his summer move.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW ORLEANS • Anthony Davis shrugged off a constant cascade of boos and reminded a packed crowd exactly what it lost when the six-time All-Star's trade request was finally fulfilled in the summer.

The forward capped a 41-point performance in his first return to New Orleans by intercepting Jrue Holiday's in-bounds pass with five seconds left and making a pair of game-sealing free throws.

After helping the Los Angeles Lakers extend their winning streak to nine games with a 114-110 National Basketball Association victory over the Pelicans on Wednesday night, Davis was thrilled to get one over his former team.

"Obviously, the emotions were high," he said. "This game was circled on both calendars. They came out guns blazing and we were able to come out with the win."

A fired-up crowd booed his introduction and virtually every time he had the ball, only to see him and teammate LeBron James take over in the fourth quarter.

The latter had 29 points and 11 assists, scoring 15 points in the final period to become the fourth player in NBA history to score 33,000 career points, behind league greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant.

"My teammates kept telling me, 'AD, don't worry about it. We're going to get this win. We'll find a way to win it for you'," said Davis, who spent seven years in New Orleans.

James added: "Any time you go back to a place where you've made a mark, where you started your career and gave a lot to the community and the franchise, you want to come back and play well and win.

"We knew that as his brothers and we wanted to try and fulfil that goal. It's just winning time for me.

"Fourth quarter, no matter how much of a deficit we're in, or however the game is going, I believe once I start the fourth I can make a push and see what happens."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel, whose team improved to a league-leading 16-2, also hailed Davis for "blocking out the noise".

"It was a tough environment. Every time he touched the basketball, he was going against a guy - a bunch of guys - that know him, playing against a coach that knows him," he said. "He put all that stuff aside."

Davis missed three of his first four shots to the delight of the crowd, but still scored 27 points by half-time on his way to the most points by a player in his first game against his former team, who dropped to 6-12, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

He also executed about every move New Orleans fans knew and loved when he wore the No. 23 in blue, red and gold. Only this time, he wore a gold and purple jersey with the No. 3, but despite the hostile reception, Davis claimed there were no hard feelings.

"We've got a bond off the floor that will continue no matter the circumstances. It was a fun night," he said.

"Everybody thinks I've got a vendetta against New Orleans or something like that.

"I have no ill will towards anybody. I'm in a happy place. They're in a happy place. We're just here to play basketball."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2019, with the headline 'No love lost for Davis'. Print Edition | Subscribe