New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis was a man on a mission Sunday, scoring 59 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in a 111-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The 22-year-old Davis accomplished a feat no NBA player has in four decades, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Anthony Davis joins Shaquille O'Neal as the only players in the last 40 seasons with 55 points and 20 rebounds pic.twitter.com/eVhJTfDefs— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 21, 2016
It wasn't all for show either. With the Pelicans leading just 88-87 with 5:24 remaining, Davis scored his team's next 13 points to give New Orleans a 101-93 lead with 1:58 left, essentially icing the game.
CBS Sports NBA took to Twitter to ask the question on every viewer's mind during Davis' ridiculous performance:
52 points, 19 rebounds for Anthony Davis. pic.twitter.com/VGFHTRPhJp— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) February 21, 2016
He ended the third quarter with 40 points, and the Pelicans' official Twitter account noted his amazing 36 minutes:
〰 = 🔥🔥🔥— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 21, 2016
That is all.
His highlights began well before his 14-point third quarter, including this monster slam to cut the Pistons' lead to three with less than a minute before halftime, per the Pelicans:
Proving he can do more than just dunk, Davis showed his versatility with this stellar pass, per the Pelicans:
Despite the huge night, it was not an easy victory for New Orleans. Davis was on the bench to start the fourth quarter with his team leading 80-75. After six straight points from the Pistons, AD was back in, per Jim Eichenhofer of the Pelicans' official website:
Well that was quick. Anthony Davis back in at 10:02 of 4Q. #Pelicans came up empty on several possessions. Det 81-80— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) February 21, 2016
All Davis did was come in and hit two free throws to give the Pelicans a one-point lead and then hit a jumper on the next possession as well for a career-high 44 points. Eichenhofer noted how well-rounded Davis' effort was:
In addition to everything else he's done, Anthony Davis (44 pts, 17 reb, 4 ast) has drawn 2 Det charges. Pistons lowering shoulder into AD— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) February 21, 2016
It also was an efficient outing as he connected on 24 of 34 shots, and through three quarters, he was playing better than the rest of his team combined, per Josh Eberley of Hoops Habit:
Anthony Davis 40, 27 shots.— Josh Eberley (@JoshEberley) February 21, 2016
Other Pelicans 40, 47 shots.
Davis, Davis, Davis!
Davis also went 2-of-2 from three-point land and 9-of-10 from the line and chipped in four assists. He seemed to get better as the game continued, scoring eight points in the first quarter, 18 in the second, 14 in the third and finally 19 in the fourth.
Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com summed up Davis' effort with some humor:
Knock Knock— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) February 21, 2016
Anthony Davis who?
Nothing, just Anthony Davis.
It's no surprise to see Davis, who was averaging 23.6 points and 9.9 rebounds coming into the game, being dominant, but this performance will go down as one of the greatest for a long time. It might not have equaled Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point effort or Kobe Bryant's 81-point contest, but the overall game—in addition to the number of points—shows just how versatile and talented the fourth-year player out of Kentucky can be.
It's going to be a long time—if ever—before a player equals what Davis did Sunday.
Once Davis finished dominating the Pistons, he ended the game with the franchise’s highest single-game scoring effort and became the second-youngest player in NBA history with a 50-point, 20-rebound effort behind Bob McAdoo, per SportsCenter.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy put the loss on himself, per Johnny Kane of Fox Sports:
"I didn't give anything to limit Anthony Davis. That's on me." - SVG— Johnny Kane (@JohnnyKaneFSD) February 21, 2016
However, it didn’t seem like Van Gundy or anyone else was going to stop Davis, who was in the zone. His teammates at least tried to cool him off after the game, via NBA TV:
They saw firsthand how well he played. And they paled in comparison, according to Golliver:
Anthony Davis in 43 minutes: 59 points & 20 rebounds— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 21, 2016
All of his Pelicans teammates combined in 197 minutes: 52 points & 31 rebounds
Here’s a visual of just how efficient Davis was on the night, per Mason Ginsberg of ESPN’s True Hoop Network:
Is green good? pic.twitter.com/uTEbrVR2bP— Mason Ginsberg (@MasonGinsberg) February 21, 2016
Reaction to Davis’ performance was easy to find online, including this one from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith:
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports said Davis’ effort shows he could be the top player in the league:
Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis reminded you why he has potential No. 1 player in the league talent with 59 points & 20 rebounds at Detroit.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 21, 2016
Davis was aware of how well he played, but the win was most important to him, per John Reid of NOLA.com.
"Of course the guys on the bench were telling me, "Four more rebounds (to 20),' and 'You should go to 60,'" Davis said after the game. "When you're on the floor, you try to do everything possible to get wins. That's all I'm trying to do is help this team get better and make a push to get into the playoffs."
Davis spoke in-depth to NBA TV about his performance following the game:
Head coach Alvin Gentry said all Davis needed was a little space to do what he does, per Reid.
"Our whole thing with him (Davis) is that we try to get him playing in space," Gentry told reporters after the game. "When he plays in space and has ability to put the ball down one or two dribbles without somebody being all on top of him, I think he can have a night like he did tonight."
If this is what's going to happen when Davis gets some space, his teammates should just get as far away from him as they can and let him go to work.
With Davis' effort, the Pelicans improved to 22-33, but they still sit 5.5 games behind the Houston Rockets for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. If Davis even plays half as well as he did on Sunday the rest of the year, New Orleans has a real shot at making the playoffs.