NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis is getting even better while the New Orleans Pelicans close out another difficult season.
Davis set career highs with 40 points and 21 rebounds, and Eric Gordon made two crucial free throws in overtime to lead the Pelicans to a 121-120 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.
“My teammates tell me that they feed off my energy and they want me to be great so I can’t be timid and do what it takes to help my team win,” said Davis, who also blocked three shots, making him the eight player in NBA history with at least 40 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks in a game. “We’re trying to do a better job of making me comfortable down the stretch.”
Tyreke Evans added 26 points and Gordon had 19 for the Pelicans (27-39), who had lost two consecutive games. Gordon’s foul shots with 9.4 seconds remaining gave the Pelicans a 121-117 lead.
“In overtime we did enough to squeak out a one-point win,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said.
Jeff Green, who led Boston with 39 points, answered Gordon’s free throws in overtime with a three-point play that trimmed New Orleans’ lead to 121-120 with 5.7 seconds remaining. But the Celtics were unable to foul on the inbounds play and New Orleans ran out the clock.
“At least we played with better poise at the end of regulation and overtime,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who blamed a defensive miscommunication for Boston not committing the late foul. “We gave ourselves a chance to win on the offensive end. Guys got a couple of stops, just not enough at the end.”
Davis did not score in overtime but controlled the middle by grabbing six rebounds. He became the first player in franchise history to have at least 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game. He is averaging 32.3 points in his last six games.
His previous high for points was Friday night when he scored 36 in a loss against Portland. Davis’ 21 rebounds erased his previous career high of 19 against Orlando on Jan. 26.
“I think he can do this 10 to 15 times a year just because he is so gifted and does things for the right reason,” Williams said. “Obviously, he has great athletic ability but some of that stuff is just him. We try to put him in a position where he can be a dominant player.”
Green made three big free throws late in regulation, tying it at 110. Davis answered with a jumper for New Orleans, but Kris Humphries, who scored 16 points, sent the game into overtime on a long jumper from the right corner.
“That’s a tough one to swallow,” said Celtics forward Jared Sullinger, who scored 14 points. “(Humphries) hitting that big shot to send it into overtime, we thought we could win. In the end we came up short.”
Avery Bradley had 12 points for the Celtics, who lost their fourth consecutive game.
Evans’ layup with 5:33 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Pelicans a 102-89 lead. Boston then closed with a 23-10 surge to force the extra period.
It was similar to the past two games when the Pelicans blew leads against Memphis and Portland.
“We played defense in the fourth quarter and in overtime and got stops when we needed it,” Davis said. “We came up with the rebounds and made free throws.”
The Celtics, who attempted to push the pace against the defense-minded Pelicans, closed the first half on a 17-8 run to take a 64-57 halftime lead. Boston scored 39 points in the second period.
Green had 20 points at the break. He had a tying dunk with 4:11 left and a 3-pointer with 2:35 remaining, giving Boston a 54-49 lead.