Cousins, Davis lead Pelicans past Bucks

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) blocks a shot by Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe (6) on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, in New Orleans. The Pelicans won 115-108. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When DeMarcus Cousins was asked about his soaring, one-handed, put-back dunk in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans star took the opportunity to have a little fun at the expense of Pelicans teammate Jameer Nelson, sitting two lockers away.

“Well, I saw that Jameer was going to miss, so something just told me to keep going,” said a chuckling Cousins, who got a running start from about the 3-point line on the play. “But when it left his hand, it didn’t look too good.”

The thunderous, fourth-quarter jam, which brought roaring fans out of their seats, highlighted a 26-point, 13-rebound performance and sent New Orleans on its way to a 115-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.

The Pelicans turned the ball over 21 times, with nine committed by Cousins, but the mercurial All-Star center came through in the clutch. His 3-pointer with 22 seconds left put the game virtually out of reach. In the minutes before that, he threw down not only his stunning putback, but also a two-handed slam which he set up with a spinning dribble around Milwaukee’s Thon Maker.

“I’m not your guy that’s soaring above the rim, but the opportunity kind of presented itself so I took advantage of it,” Cousins said.

Anthony Davis returned from a one-game absence caused by a nagging adductor injury to score 25 points on his usual diverse array of jumpers, layups and dunks, including an alley-oop set up by Cousins. Davis also grabbed 10 rebounds.

“Everything feels fine. Just excited we got the win,” Davis said. “We played great team defense toward the end of the game.”

E’Twaun Moore hit four 3-pointers and finished with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting for the Pelicans, who shot 56.3 percent (45 of 80). Cousins and Davis each hit 10 of 16 shots. Moore closed out his scoring with a soaring dunk with 1:41 left to help New Orleans pull away. That outing came one game after his career-high 36 points in Houston on Monday night.

“His confidence is very high,” Davis said. “He’s playing at an elite level. He’s shooting the ball from 3, mid-range, getting to the line, layups. He’s playing well defensively.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points and nine rebounds for Milwaukee, which had its three-game winning streak snapped and lost for only the second time in eight games.

The Bucks made only 8 of 27 3s.

“One thing we’ve got to learn is we need to move the ball and we need to make open shots,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “We didn’t make open shots tonight. We missed some layups that we normally have made in the past.

“That was the one thing that slowed us down and we didn’t do a good job of that tonight.”

Khris Middleton had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks. They led 94-87 after Malcolm Brogdon, who had 11 points, hit a 7-foot floater early in the fourth quarter. But the Bucks faded after that.

New Orleans took the lead for good on Davis’ reverse layup that made it 99-98 with 7:02 to go.

Milwaukee’s John Henson and Eric Bledsoe each scored 14 points. … Fell to 6-7 on the road … Have scored 100-plus points in 10 straight, going 7-3 in those games. … Tied a season low with 10 turnovers.

Pelicans’ Darius Miller made three 3-pointers on five attempts for nine points. … Went 13 of 25 (52 percent) from 3-point range. New Orleans improved to 8-7 at home and came in averaging 16.2 turnovers per game, fourth worst in the NBA.

When asked about the Pelicans’ struggles with turnovers, Cousins called himself “the main culprit.”

“It just shows how good we could be if we cut down half our turnovers,” he added. “I definitely have to make better decisions with the ball. I take full responsibility for the high amount of turnovers on the night.”

Not all of Cousins’ passing attempts went in vain. He finished with seven assists.

The Bucks hosts Chicago on Friday night.

Pelicans at Denver on Friday night.


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