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DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis power New Orleans Pelicans past Portland Trail Blazers

By
Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins before game against the Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, March 5, 2017. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins before game against the Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, March 5, 2017. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

NEW ORLEANS -- In purely academic terms, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are just now learning to play nicely with each other in the sandbox.

The New Orleans Pelicans' convincing 100-77 victory Tuesday night over the Portland Trail Blazers -- in which Cousins and Davis combined for 37 points, 24 rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks -- offered a promising glimpse of what a Twin Towers rotation might really look like when they are totally in sync.

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It was just the third victory in the nine games in which the pair played together since Cousins arrived from the Sacramento Kings, but it showed signs of the tandem learning to play better together and being tougher to stop.

"Excuse my French, but it's a bitch for bigs (to defend)," Cousins said after scoring a team-high 22 points and serving at times as a 6-foot-11 point guard, throwing a perfect lob pass to Davis for a reverse slam and a behind-the-back pass to Dante Cunningham for another uncontested dunk and an 83-57 lead. "You think you get a break when one guy goes out, and another one's coming in. You got to pick your poison with both of us.

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"Bigs having to guard a pick-and-roll -- it's just nonstop pressure on bigs. I think it's going to be tough on them."

Despite rolling his left ankle late on the second quarter, Davis scored 15 points and had 15 rebounds. He is seeing signs of the Twin Towers scheme working both on offense and defense.

"We're continuing to learn more and more about each other and where we like the ball on the floor, what moves we like and everything like that," Davis said. "We're getting better the more we play with each other. Right now, we're just trying to find our groove."

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The victory was the second straight for the Pelicans (27-40), and they did it on the defensive end, holding Portland to 30.3 percent shooting (23 of 76). New Orleans led by 14 at halftime, by 23 after three periods and by as many as 28 points in the fourth quarter. Portland committed 16 turnovers to only five by the Pelicans.

The Trail Blazers were held to their lowest output of the season -- 31.6 points below their 108.6 scoring average.

"That was a tough one," said Portland coach Terry Stotts, whose team had won five of its previous six games. "Our offense really never got untracked. The first quarter, I think we just didn't shoot the ball well. We were loose with the ball, and turnovers caught up with us in the second quarter and we could never really get on track offensively. It's hard to evaluate our defense because we struggled so much on offense."

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The Blazers (29-37) were paced by point guard Damian Lillard, who scored 29 points. Backcourt mate CJ McCollum, who had averaged 27 points in the previous five games, was held to 4-of-12 shooting and scored just eight points.

The previous offensive low for the Blazers this season was a 111-80 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 9.

"We had good looks," Lillard said. "We didn't make shots. We turned the ball over, mainly myself (four turnovers). I had a lot of turnovers early. It just seemed like we couldn't get right on that end of the floor. We didn't move the ball. We didn't cut and screen like we have been. We just weren't very productive on that end of the floor. It's tough to win a game when you don't play well offensively and the other team is making shots."

New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said he likes what he sees of the Davis-Cousins lineup.

"I thought DeMarcus and A.D. did a good job of taking advantage when (the Blazers) tried to go small and making them pay," Gentry said. "It's a good win against a team that was scoring 120 a game in the last five games, so that's the way we have to try to play."

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Davis played the second half of the game with a gimpy left ankle. He twisted it late in the second quarter and left the game with six points and had seven rebounds in 13 minutes. X-rays were negative, and Davis returned for the second half.

"It's all right," Davis said, smiling. "We'll see how it feels. We'll see tomorrow."

NOTES: New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said he hasn't been surprised by G Jordan Crawford, who had a pair of 19-point performances in his first three games while playing on a 10-day contract. "You're talking about a guy that had three triple-doubles in the league, so that's pretty impressive on its own," Gentry said. Crawford scored 13 points Tuesday. ... SG Wayne Selden Jr. got his first start of the season for the Pelicans, in place of Hollis Thompson, and he scored two points in 15 minutes. ... G Shabazz Napier (10 points) was the only Blazer other than G Damian Lillard to score in double figures.

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