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Davis takes over as Pelicans outlast Jazz

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NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams has treated All-Star forward Anthony Davis like a benevolent father during Davis’ stunning two-year-plus run through the NBA.

But on Tuesday night against the Utah Jazz — with his prized pupil nursing sore ribs and playing with a flak jacket — Williams decided a little tough love would go a long way.

Davis responded to his coach’s first-quarter barbs by scoring a game-high 31 points, including a tip-in, a driving layup and a reverse dunk in the final 1:10, to power the Pelicans to a 119-111 comeback victory over the Jazz at the Smoothie King Center.

“He’s a special player,” Williams said. “In the first quarter I had to get on him a little bit. I’m sure he didn’t like it, but I didn’t think he was playing to the level of greatness that we’re used to seeing. After that, defensively he got himself involved.”

Williams had very little to complain about Davis’ offensive game in the first half. He scored 14 first-half points on 5-of-7 shooting, and he opened the game by knocking down three mid-range jumpers to keep the Pelicans within striking distance.

But, on the other end, the Jazz shot 58 percent in the first half (25-of-43) and crushed the Pelicans in the paint, 38-20, en route to a 56-53 halftime lead.

Utah finished with 68 points in the paint and held an 18-9 edge on the offensive boards, something Davis usually does not allow.

“(Davis) was knocking down his shot, but I didn’t think he had the same mojo,” Williams said. “He may have been a little apprehensive about his injury, but I think once they got up on us, his pride and ego kicked in and then he started to lead us, and the numbers speak for themselves.”

The Pelicans (12-12), who had not won a game in eight tries this season when trailing entering the fourth quarter, trailed 92-78 with 11:22 left.

They went on to outscore the Jazz 41-19 in the final 11:05, holding Utah to 29.2 percent shooting (7-of-24) in the final quarter.

“He definitely stressed defense the whole game, and we weren’t doing that,” Davis said. “As a coach, he’s got to make sure we can’t forget that we’re a defensive team.”

Davis took several hard shots to the chest — including one from guard Alec Burks — and got up a little slowly. But he did not seem overly concerned about the chest injury that forced him to miss a 128-122 overtime loss to Golden State on Sunday.

“I was just going to play,” Davis said. “I got hit in that third quarter, but it felt fine. Maybe it was adrenalin, so I’ll probably feel it in a couple of hours.”

Davis scored seven consecutive points down the stretch to turn a 108-106 lead into a 115-108 advantage. Forward Ryan Anderson added 28 points for New Orleans, making 6-of-10 from long range, and guard Tyreke Evans had 19 points — 17 in the second half — and six assists.

Utah (6-19) lost for the 12th time in 13 games. Center Enes Kanter led the Jazz with a season-high 29 points. Forward Gordon Hayward scored 17 points, and guards Alex Burks and Trey Burke added 16 points apiece.

Utah coach Quin Snyder said Evans’ ability to get into the lane in the fourth quarter changed the complexion of the game and allowed the Pelicans to come back from their double-digit deficit.

“Tyreke Evans getting to the rim,” Snyder said, recounting his team’s defensive lapse. “He does that maybe better than anyone in the NBA, and he got it going and got to the rim. Anthony Davis is making shots, and Ryan Anderson started making shots.”

Kanter said the Jazz should be able to take some positives out of their effort despite the fourth-quarter collapse.

“It was just a lot of little mistakes that added up at the end,” Kanter said.

NOTES: Utah F Derrick Favors missed the game due to a sprained right ankle. … Pelicans F Anthony Davis does not recall how he got hurt in a Friday victory over Cleveland. “I couldn’t really breathe and I had a sharp pain in my chest,” he said. “It was an unusual pain that I never felt before.” … New Orleans coach Monty Williams took exception to claims by Golden State coach Steve Kerr that Pelicans F Dante Cunningham delivered cheap shots to Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green in a 128-122 overtime loss to the Warriors on Sunday night. “To me, it takes away from how great the game was,” Williams said. “If I have a problem with another team, I go talk to the coach. I don’t like playing that game of calling the league and whining about what happened in a game. Dante doesn’t play that way.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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