Brow outduels KAT in Pelicans win over Wolves

Published 12:19 pm Saturday, February 11, 2017

The New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves started the night at Target Center in the same exact position — tied for 12th in the Western Conference and with No. 1 picks from Kentucky determined to help them make a push for the playoffs.

They left going in opposite directions, with Anthony Davis and the Pelicans brimming with confidence and Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves searching for answers.

Davis had 42 points and 13 rebounds to win a duel with Towns and lift the Pelicans to a 122-106 victory over the Timberwolves on Friday.

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Davis hit 16 of 22 shots, including two 3-pointers, and Jrue Holiday had 25 points and 12 assists to get the Pelicans off to a good start on their final road trip before hosting the All-Star game next weekend. They shot a season-high 60 percent from the field — just the sixth time they’ve topped 50 percent — and hit 12 3s.

“We know where we are in the seeding and we want to make sure that we make the playoffs,” Davis said. “That’s all I’m trying to do is help my team win.”

Towns scored 36 points and Andrew Wiggins had 29 for the Timberwolves, who dropped to 1-3 on a season-long six-game homestand. The Wolves were outrebounded 43-34 and heard boos in the fourth quarter while struggling on defense.

“We didn’t protect the lead and didn’t play with urgency,” Towns said of a 15-point first-half lead. “And it cost us.”

The featured attraction Friday night was Davis vs. Towns, a showdown between two Wildcats who have become two of the best big men in the NBA.

Davis hit 10 of his first 11 shots, including a 3-pointer and a terrific, right-handed runner that came while gliding through the lane and floating away from the basket.

Towns was every bit Davis’s equal early, throwing down a soaring putback dunk, a right-handed hook right over Davis’s outstretched arm and an acrobatic three-point play.

But Towns picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter and the Pelicans made their move. They scored 37 points in the period, turning a four-point deficit into a nine-point lead going into the fourth.

“He can score from anywhere on the floor. He’s physical,” Davis said of Towns. “He’s very aggressive. It’s always fun going against another Kentucky alum. But I think tonight I got the best of him.”


Pelicans: Davis scored 40 for the sixth time this season, and it was his highest scoring game since he put up 45 on the Wolves in New Orleans on Nov. 23. … G E’Twaun Moore (personal reasons), F Alexis Ajinca (personal reasons), F Terrence Jones (right thumb sprain) and G Tyreke Evans (left ankle sprain) did not play. … F Omer Asik picked up four fouls in four minutes in the first half.

Timberwolves: PG Ricky Rubio had 15 points and 12 assists. … G Kris Dunn played for the first time in five games after being sidelined by a bruised right hand.

Hield shines

It has been a slow start for Pelicans rookie Buddy Hield, who was averaging just 8.5 points and shooting 38.6 percent from the field. But he looked more like the shooter he was at Oklahoma on Friday night, hitting 7 of 10 shots and scoring 17 points.

“I thought Buddy had one of his better games for us all around,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “Defensively, I thought his decision-making was really good and I thought he shot the ball well.”

Defensive struggles

The Wolves went through a stretch of eight wins in 11 games and were seventh in the league in defensive efficiency during that time to help them climb back into the playoff picture. They have dropped five of six since that run, giving up an average of 115.7 points.

“I’ll keep coming and coming and coming and coming,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ll either figure it out or … We’ll figure it out.”

Up next

Pelicans: New Orleans heads to Sacramento on Sunday for a game against another great Kentucky big man, DeMarcus Cousins.

Timberwolves: Minnesota continues its six-game homestand on Sunday against coach Tom Thibodeau’s former team, the Chicago Bulls.