AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Few players have ever had the feeling Anthony Davis did Sunday.
The star centre scored a franchise-record 59 points and pulled down 20 rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Detroit Pistons 111-106.
"That was a lot of fun, because the rim looked so big that it felt like everything I shot was going to go in," Davis said. "I wasn’t keeping track of my point total, but the guys were telling me at the timeouts. They wanted me to get 60."
The previous club record was 50 points by Jamal Mashburn exactly 13 years earlier against the Grizzlies. Davis went 24 of 34 from the floor and made his only two 3-pointers. He added nine free throws in 10 attempts.
"We made an effort to get him the ball in space, and Jrue (Holiday) did a great job of that," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "That’s a really good team, and Andre Drummond is one of the best centres in this league, so that really shows what A.D. can do when we get him in space."
Davis had 19 points in the fourth quarter and broke the scoring record for the Palace of Auburn Hills set by LeBron James with 48 points in an Eastern Conference finals game on June 1, 2007.
"That one is on me. That was terrible coaching — terrible," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "You’ve got to come up with something. You can’t let a guy get 59. That’s on me."
Davis joined Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber as the only NBA players with 50 points and 20 rebounds in a game since 1983.
"I don’t think it will really sink in until tomorrow what I did today," Davis said. "But being in the history books with C-Webb and Shaq? That’s something special."
Holiday came off the bench and scored 20 points, the only other player to reach double figures for New Orleans.
Reggie Jackson led the Pistons with 34 points.
The short-handed Pistons lost another key player early on when Anthony Tolliver limped off the floor after spraining his knee in a collision with Drummond. Marcus Morris shifted to power forward with Tobias Harris playing small forward in his second game with Detroit.
"It’s not like (Davis) was just scoring on one guy out there," Harris said. "He was scoring on everyone we had. That’s a team thing, and we have to take it as a team."
The Pistons led for much of the second quarter, but the teams went into the break even after a mental mistake by Drummond.
Davis had tipped a missed shot at the buzzer, and the ball was clearly going to fall safely off the rim. However, Drummond lost focus and reached up through the basket to swat the ball off the rim. That made it goaltending and 55-all going into halftime.
The half was another defensive struggle for the Pistons, as the Pelicans shot 45.8 per cent from the floor, but Detroit held them to 1-for-7 on 3-pointers. Detroit shot only 41.9 per cent but hit five 3-pointers and was an unusual 73.7 per cent from the free throw line, including 2 for 3 by Drummond. He reverted to form at the line in the second half, though, going 1 for 7.
Davis had 14 points in the third quarter, giving him 40 in the game, and the Pelicans led 80-75 going into the final period. Detroit scored the first six points of the fourth with Davis on the bench, but he returned with 10:02 to play and scored 19 points in the final 10 minutes.
Pelicans: Omer Asik left in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. That resulted in Kendrick Perkins starting the second half at centre after not playing in the first half. Asik left the arena on crutches and is scheduled for tests on Monday.
Pistons: Detroit dressed only 11 players, with guards Jodie Meeks and Spencer Dinwiddie injured, and Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton unavailable due to complications with the trade that brought them to the Pistons from Houston. Motiejunas still hasn’t been cleared after testing his back injury, and Detroit and the Rockets have been given an extension until 6 p.m. on Monday to complete the deal. . Tolliver did not travel to Cleveland with his teammates, and will have an MRI on his knee Monday.
The Pelicans visit Washington on Tuesday.
The Pistons visit Cleveland on Monday.