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Davis guides Pelicans past Hornets

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NEW ORLEANS — At first, Anthony Davis sheepishly said he did not hear the “M-V-P” chants that filled the Smoothie King Center late in the third quarter Tuesday.

The budding superstar scored 12 of his game-high 24 points in the third on his way to carrying the New Orleans Pelicans to a 100-91 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.

Then the third-year, All-Pro forward cracked a smile and told the world to get serious.

“Yeah, I heard it,” Davis said after recording his third double-double in four games. “It’s crazy because I watched, when I was younger, LeBron, Kobe, K.D. — all them guys — and you could hear them chanting that through the TV. And then you’re actually at the line, and it’s like, ‘Man, they’re doing it for me.’ It was good, but at the same time, my biggest thing was like ? you’d better not miss these two free throws.”

He didn’t. In fact, Davis made four mid-range jumpers and was five of seven from the field in the third quarter as the Pelicans (2-2) erased a 48-47 halftime deficit and took a 73-65 lead, later expanding the margin to 15 points in the fourth quarter.

Davis, who also grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked three shots, has continued to remain grounded despite his early NBA success.

“It’s only the beginning of the season,” Davis said. “This is our (fourth) game. We got a lot more to go.”

Pelicans coach Monty Williams, however, said he is constantly amazed at how Davis has expanded his game. After a 93-81 road loss to Memphis on Monday night — in which Davis was limited to 14 points and eight rebounds — Williams said he had a telephone conversation with former Seattle Supersonics guard Nate McMillan, his good friend, who urged him to get Davis more involved on the offensive end.

“He said to get Anthony easier catches,” Williams said. “Get him the ball early in the clock so he has a chance to see what’s happening and not be under duress with double teams and the paint being loaded. We just made an effort to get him the ball. Energy finds the ball, and he works to get it.”

After entering the game tied for last in the NBA in field-goal percentage (39.1 percent), the Pelicans had their best-shooting game of the early season, converting 38 of 81 from the floor (46.9 percent). Point guard Jrue Holiday, shooting guard Tyreke Evans and forward Ryan Anderson each had 16 points as the Pelicans sent the Hornets (1-3) to their third consecutive loss.

Guard Gary Neal led the Hornets with 21 points, and center Al Jefferson added 20.

The Hornets closed the first half with an 8-2 run to take a 48-47 halftime lead. But in the third quarter, in which New Orleans outscored the Hornets 26-17, Charlotte fell victim to poor shooting and a 17-6 New Orleans run.

“I just don’t think we’re in the right place,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “It’s a coaching thing. I have to be more responsible. We’re just not disciplined on defense at all, we don’t run back, we make mistakes, we stop playing — basic stuff that would give you a chance to play well, and we’re not even doing that.”

“This year, I don’t think we’re the same defensive team that we were in the past,” said forward Gerald Henderson.

Clifford wasn’t surprised by Davis’ offensive explosion in the third quarter — specifically his four made jumpers from beyond 16-feet.

“He’s just so big,” Clifford said.” Actually, I felt like for three of them, we were right there. He’s a superstar talent, and that’s what those guys do.”

The Pelicans also shook off their shaky foul shooting from the first three games. After making just 55 of 88 from the line, New Orleans canned all 19 foul shots.

Pelicans guard Eric Gordon continued his frigid shooting, going 0 for 6 for the game. In the first four games, Gordon, the Pelicans’ highest-paid player, has missed 27 misses in his 34 shots.

Davis said the team has not lost faith in Gordon.

“When one of our soldiers is struggling we’ve got to make sure we pick him up and give him the ball,” Davis said. “That’s why we were going to him early and giving him the ball. He had good looks. When you’ve a great player, you’re going to have slumps. All you do is get back in the gym and try to work it out.”

NOTES: Hornets F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did not play because of a rib contusion, which he sustained falling to the floor on a rebound attempt Sunday against the Knicks. “It was tough in person, but if you watch that on tape, we’re fortunate that he’s not hurt a lot (more),” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “He went up there and they both had their hands on the ball, so there was no way for him to break his fall.” … The Pelicans shot 39.1 percent in their 1-2 start. “Guys have tough shooting nights in the league, but when you look at our team, you don’t expect to shoot in the low 30s (33.7 percent in a 93-81 loss to Memphis on Monday night),” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. … New Orleans was known as the Hornets from 2002-13 before Charlotte reclaimed its founding nickname this season.

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