NEW ORLEANS (AP) – DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, and the New Orleans Pelicans pulled away for a convincing 123-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
Anthony Davis added 30 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks to help New Orleans win for the third time in four games. New Orleans’ All-Star frontcourt tandem had help from the backcourt, too, with Jrue Holiday scoring 29 points and E’Twaun Moore 24 as the Pelicans made better than 53 percent off their shots.
Kevin Love had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavs, who were without Derrick Rose and trailed for most of the game. LeBron James had 18 points and Dwyane Wade 15 for Cleveland, which has lost three of four.
Trailing by 13 at halftime, Cleveland briefly appeared to be taking control in the third quarter. It began with an 8-0 Cavs run the included 3s by James and Love. Love hit three 3s, grabbed four rebounds and added an assist during what turned into a 21-7 surge that gave the Cavs a 73-72 lead.
But the Pelicans regained momentum as Cousins, Holiday and Davis reasserted themselves. Cousins’ three-point play on a driving layup and Holiday’s 3 were bookends of a 12-2 run that put New Orleans back up by nine, and the Pelicans never trailed again.
Love, meanwhile, briefly left the game after falling to the floor, clutching his left knee under the basket. He returned in the fourth quarter, but the Pelicans never let Cleveland get closer than six points in the final period. The Pelicans put the game away with a 13-3 run, capped by Holiday’s fourth 3-pointer, which made it 108-89 in the middle of the quarter.
Moore, who is starting while New Orleans awaits the recovery of Rajon Rando from a preseason core muscle injury, helped the Pelicans build an early double-digit lead. He hit his first five shots – three of them from 3-point range – and the last of those made it 40-27 early in the second quarter.
Cleveland used an 8-0 run, capped by Wade’s driving dunk, to pull to 40-35. Wade also produced a dazzling behind-the-back move to set up a floater, but such highlights were too infrequent for the Cavs.
New Orleans soon rebuilt its lead to 15, using a 9-1 spurt sparked by Holiday’s 3 and led 65-52 at halftime.
Cavaliers: Although Rose had been optimistic a day earlier that his left ankle sprain would be healed enough to play in New Orleans, coach Tyronn Lue said before the game that Rose was still in pain on Saturday. “I don’t know about a setback, but he still had soreness this morning when he tried to warm up,” Lue said. … Lue added that he inserted the 6-foot-5 Iman Shumpert in the starting lineup against New Orleans because he felt that was a favorable defensive matchup against the 6-4 Holiday. “We know Holiday’s aggressive scoring,” Lue said. So starting Shumpert was “just to have a defensive presence on the floor to start the game and then see what happens from there. Lue described the move as matchup oriented and not a knock on 6-3 reserve guard Jose Calderon. “I have comfort with (Calderon) in the rotation. Just to start, that’s a lot of tough matchups for him having to guard Jrue Holiday,” Lue said. “It’s a lot to ask.”
Pelicans: Newly acquired F Josh Smith made his debut late in the first quarter after agreeing to sign as a free agent earlier in the week. It was his first NBA action since the 2015-16 season. He played a little less than seven minutes, made his only shot and grabbed two rebounds. … The Pelicans finished 13 of 31 (41.9 percent) from 3-point range.
Cavaliers: Host the New York Knicks on Sunday night.
Pelicans: Host the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
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