Nets build big lead, hold off Davis, Pelicans

NEW YORK (AP) — The Nets piled on the points in the first half like never before in Brooklyn, and it turned out they needed almost all of them.

Anthony Davis was that tough to stop in a monstrous return to the lineup.

D’Angelo Russell had 22 points and 13 assists, and the Nets built up a big enough lead with a 73-point first half to hold off Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans, 126-121 on Wednesday night.

Davis finished with 34 points and a career-high 26 rebounds after a one-game absence, but there weren’t enough rebounds to get in the first half, when the Nets opened a 24-point lead during their highest-scoring first half at home in 17 years.

“Man, when you got a guy like Anthony Davis down there, it’s tough for us on the defensive end, it’s tough for us on the offensive end,” Russell said. “You’ve just got to keep playing next play at a time mentality and just being aggressive on all cylinders.”

New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (C) rebounds the ball as Brooklyn Nets’ Ed Davis (L) and Spencer Dinwiddie watch. – AP

Joe Harris added 21 points for the Nets, who had 105 points through three quarters, then got consecutive baskets by Harris when New Orleans trimmed the lead down to seven with under five minutes remaining.

The Nets made nine of their first 15 three-point attempts during their highest-scoring first half at home since getting 75 against Golden State on February 19, 2002, back in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Davis said the Pelicans’ first-half defence was lazy.

“The whole first half they did whatever they wanted,” he said. “They didn’t feel us on the defensive end.”

Despite playing without injured Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Allen Crabbe, the Nets won for the seventh time in their last eight home games. They finished with seven players in double figures, with DeMarre Carroll (19) and Spencer Dinwiddie (18) leading a bench effort that had a whopping 55-5 advantage over the New Orleans reserves.

“Losing Caris and Allen Crabbe and Rondae, I just think we’re a deeper squad and we’re a better squad. But we have a tough road ahead here, especially short-handed,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “If we can weather the storm I think until we’re fully healthy, maybe we can do something important.”

Elfrid Payton scored 25 points for New Orleans in his second game back after missing more than a month with a broken finger. Julius Randle had 21 and Jrue Holiday 20, but the Pelicans got next to nothing from their bench.