|Davis needs help as Pelicans host Spurs|
NEW ORLEANS -- Due to another superhuman effort by Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans did just fine playing the final 17 minutes Monday night without DeMarcus Cousins, who was ejected for elbowing Russell Westbrook after grabbing a rebound in a 114-107 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The San Antonio Spurs have cruised to an 11-6 record despite the absence of All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard and point guard Tony Parker, whose quad injuries have kept them out for the first month of the season.
Cousins will return the lineup Wednesday against the Spurs, who won three of four against New Orleans last season. The Pelicans (9-8) hope he will be able to give Davis some breathing room.
Davis played a season-high 44 1/2 minutes against Oklahoma City, including all 24 minutes of the second half. He led New Orleans with 36 points, including an 18-of-22 performance from the foul line, and contributed 15 rebounds and two blocks.
Cousins was ejected after replay officials ruled he was guilty of a flagrant-2 foul by catching Westbrook in the head while swinging his right elbow to protect the ball after a rebound. Cousins left the game with 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
On Tuesday after practice, Cousins said his reputation as a brooding player who throws his weight around contributed to the call.
"It's crazy," he said. "When you start playing the game of basketball as a big man, they tell you, 'When you get a rebound, keep your elbows high and out,' you know, to protect the ball from guards coming in stripping.
"All I did was my fundamentals, and I got punished for it."
Cousins playfully suggested he should add league officials to his Christmas card list in order to get the benefit of the doubt that, right now, does not exist for a player who led the NBA with 18 technicals last season.
"I know I'm not (getting calls in my favor)," Cousins said. "I'm DeMarcus. I expect the ejection. It's crazy because they initially called the foul on him. It shows that I was only protecting the ball."
New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said Cousins did not intentionally throw his elbow.
"I don't think there was anything malicious about what he did at all," Gentry said.
Even without two of their stars, the Spurs are moving in cruise control under coach Gregg Popovich. In a 96-85 home victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, forward LaMarcus Aldridge posted 22 points and 11 rebounds, and forward Kyle Anderson, starting while Leonard is sidelined, had 13 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.
Anderson has scored in double figures in eight of his 17 starts this season. He did that in only four of 72 games last season in fewer minutes.
"He gets to handle the ball more, and that's his game, too," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "He's playing as a point power forward. He's a tough matchup because of his size and his handles."
The Spurs held Davis mostly in check last season, limiting him to an average of 18.8 points and 9.5 rebounds, below his season averages. Leonard averaged 21.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists against New Orleans, and Aldridge pitched in with 17.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.