|Pelicans face Pacers in middle game of 'tripleheader'|
NEW ORLEANS -- Now that the New Orleans Pelicans have taken care of the first item on their to-do list, there are two more items to check off Wednesday and Thursday nights.
The Pelicans (41-30) defeated the Dallas Mavericks 115-105 on Tuesday night in the first game of a rare back-to-back-to-back schedule of three homes games over three nights.
Next up Wednesday night are the Indiana Pacers (41-30), winners of seven of their last 10 games. The Pacers had Tuesday off after beating the Lakers 110-100 on Monday.
The Pelicans' victory over Dallas was secured by another monster game by Anthony Davis, who scored a game-high 37 points on 15-of-21 shooting. Davis went to the locker room just before halftime after sustaining a bruised left shin but returned for the second half.
"He just got hit on his shin," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "It's sore more than anything. He shook it off and did a pretty good job. That's what he does."
Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo also had nine of the Pelicans' final 11 points to beat the Mavericks, his former team.
"It's his thing," Davis said of Rondo. "He's playing against his old team, and he had a little extra energy. He's a great player."
Davis said he is playing mind games with himself when trying to analyze the physical toll of playing three home games in three nights. He said New Orleans would be ready for Indiana.
"It's the next game," Davis said. "We got through with this one, and we got another one tomorrow against a great team. This will be like a back-to-back, and then we'll work on the third one after that."
A leaky roof at the Smoothie King Center postponed the Feb. 7 game against the Pacers and set up the unusual sequence of three games in three nights for the Pelicans. Had the game been played when originally scheduled, the Pacers would have had a three-day rest for first time since November.
"We're having to travel," Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. "There (had been) a break in the schedule where we had a few days to rest, but they've got a tripleheader coming up, so it's a challenge for everybody. What we try to do is focus on ourselves."
"Everything happens for a reason," the Pacers' Victor Oladipo said. "They got three games in a row. At least that wasn't us."
Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, who played briefly for the Pelicans in 2016, feigned anger at the schedule change.
"We're pretty mad that we got to go, so we've got to take it out on them," Stephenson said. "We're going to kick their butt."
Gentry said he tried to limit Davis' minutes against Dallas to keep him as fresh as possible for the three-game gauntlet but added, "we have to try to win the game" after Davis played 35 minutes.
"We had to put AD back in a couple minutes early," Gentry said. "We wanted to keep him under 34 minutes -- keep him at 32 -- but we held him out as long as we could. We'll line up again (on Wednesday) and try to do a better job of shortening our consecutive minutes."