MILWAUKEE (AP) — Anthony Davis said he’s trying not to do anything outside his comfort zone as he works to improve his game.
He looked comfortable — and dominant — doing everything Monday night.
Davis poured in 43 points, tying a career high, while pulling down 10 boards and dishing out six assists in helping the New Orleans Pelicans pull away for a 114-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I just tried to come out aggressive and make everyone around me better. And when the opportunity was there to score, I just tried to,” said Davis, who made 17 of 23 shots.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams had high praise for his young star.
“He’s doing it against double-teams, in transition. A couple times he got fouled on his jump shot and he didn’t let it bother him,” Williams said. “He had 43 against a really good defensive team.”
A good defensive team that had no answer for Davis.
“When he’s hitting his jump shot like you saw tonight, he’s a tough cover,” Bucks center John Henson said.
Milwaukee took a 101-100 lead, its first since the opening quarter, with 3:35 remaining on a runner by Giannis Antetokounmpo. Davis, who recorded his third career 40-point game, then scored eight consecutive points as New Orleans closed the game on a 14-2 run.
“Anthony played great,” Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams said. “He’s an All-Star and he showed that tonight. The next time we play him we have to do a better job on him if we want to win.”
Bucks coach Jason Kidd said his team’s defensive schemes failed to make Davis uncomfortable.
“He made some shots early that got him going,” Kidd said. “We started to try to come get him, but when you’re 7-feet tall and can turn and shoot over guys or pass over the double-team, it becomes hard.”
Eric Gordon added 16 and Tyreke Evans had 13 before leaving the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. The Pelicans shot 59 percent for the game, the highest Milwaukee has allowed all season, and 60 percent from 3-point range.
Antetokounmpo, another of the NBA’s rising stars, had a career-high 29 points, making 11 of 16 shots for the Bucks, who have lost seven of nine.
“He’s a good player, does a little bit of everything,” Davis said. “Really drives to the basket very well and was getting good looks. It was fun going up against him.”
Carter-Williams tallied 25, his highest-scoring game for Milwaukee since being acquired last month in a trade-deadline deal, and Khris Middleton scored 17.
The Pelicans held a 77-71 lead after three quarters, led by Davis’ 32 points.
New Orleans shot 61 percent over the first two quarters, the highest of any Milwaukee opponent in a half this season, to take a 60-50 lead. The Pelicans were 8 of 10 on 3-pointers in the first half.
After the Bucks grabbed an early six-point lead, the Pelicans used a 16-2 run to take a 29-26 advantage after the first quarter.
Pelicans: Evans left the game with 1:23 left in the third quarter with an injury to his left ankle. He was helped to the locker room and did not return. He was noticeably limping after the game. … New Orleans (35-29) surpassed last season’s win total.
Bucks: O.J. Mayo sat out for the sixth time in seven games with right hamstring soreness.
After Saturday’s career-high 30-point effort, Kidd declared that Middleton isn’t a secret in the league any longer. “You can see him growing as a player,” Kidd said. “He’s a quiet young man but we are asking him to be a leader and be vocal on offense and defense. He’s taken the challenge and his game has grown.” Williams isn’t so sure Middleton has become a household name. “He’s a guy you don’t know much about around the league but he’s a really good player,” he said.
Pelicans: Visit Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
Bucks: Host Orlando on Wednesday night.
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