NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis was feeling great, fired up about being back on the court and not at all subtle about showing it.
He struck a momentary pose with a huge smile after he’d finished a fast break with a soaring, one-handed dunk. He celebrated with a crouching fist pump after a clutch, mid-range jumper in the final minute.
When it was over, Davis had piled up 39 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in his return from a right shoulder sprain, and the New Orleans Pelicans won for the sixth time in seven games, 88-85 over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams used the term “unreal” to describe Davis’ first game back after missing five. Recently acquired guard Norris Cole joked that Davis is “not human.”
Davis said he was so eager to play that he put on his uniform earlier than usual and wound up pacing around the locker room.
“I had a lot of energy coming back,” said Davis, who played nearly 42 minutes. “I just couldn’t wait to get on the floor. I was just out there having fun and it showed.”
Davis hit two mid-range jumpers in the last 1:14, the second with 18 seconds left, to hold off Detroit in a frenetic, defensive game that had 15 lead changes and eight ties.
Davis’ seventh block of the game — a two-handed rejection of 6-foot-11 Greg Monroe in the paint — gave him the Pelicans career record, surpassing David West’s 435.
In only his third season, Davis has 437 blocked shots.
“In my third year, being a franchise holder of any stat is a blessing,” Davis said. “I just try to go out there and play for my team, do whatever it takes to win. And you do that and play with the passion and the fight and the drive that the team has, things like that come across.”
Tyreke Evans had 21 points and nine assists for New Orleans. Alexis Ajinca added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Jodie Meeks scored 20 points and Reggie Jackson had 14 for Detroit, which has lost four straight.
Andre Drummond had 13 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks for the Pistons. Monroe, a New Orleans native, added 13 points and 15 rebounds.
The game was ugly at times. Detroit turned the ball over 19 times, while the Pelicans lost the ball 15 times, and both teams shot close to 41 percent. The Pistons, who normally shoot 34 percent from 3-point range, were just 2 of 14.
“They blocked shots and we’re not making any 3s,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Offensively right now, it’s just a real struggle, but when you turn it over 19 times, you’re taking away a lot of possessions.”
New Orleans never led by double digits. Davis gave the Pelicans their largest lead with a layup that made it 79-71 with 5:07 to go. But Detroit responded with a 10-2 run, pulling even when Jackson hit a 20-foot jumper and driving finger roll in succession.
Davis then hit the first of his two late jumpers to put the Pelicans back in front. Evans made it a four-point lead soon after when he drove powerfully into traffic and hit a layup high off the glass. Evans then looked at Detroit’s bench, pointed at his wrist and said, “Winning time.”
It’s a time of the game when the Pelicans look increasingly comfortable lately, and they’ve needed to be. The victory kept them one game behind Oklahoma City for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Pistons: Meeks scored 14 points in the second quarter, helping Detroit to a 46-42 halftime lead. … Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored all eight of his points in a span of 3:41 in the first quarter on three dunks and a layup. … Drummond, who entered leading the NBA with five offensive rebounds per game, had six in New Orleans.
Pelicans: New Orleans shot 30.4 percent in the first quarter, when Detroit led by as many as 12. But Davis’ putback late in the period started a 13-0 run that also included Davis’ layup as he was fouled. … Ajinca has scored in double figures in six straight games.
Pistons: Visit Houston on Friday.
Pelicans: Host Boston on Friday.
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