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Anthony Davis scores a career-high of 43, leads Pelicans to win over Jazz

SHARE Anthony Davis scores a career-high of 43, leads Pelicans to win over Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY — Jazz fans didn’t have much to cheer about in Saturday night’s 106-94 whipping by the New Orleans Pelicans. But at least they got a chance to see one of the NBA’s emerging superstars up close and personal.

No, we’re not talking about Jimmer Fredette.

Anthony Davis, the 6-foot-10, former No. 1 draft pick from Kentucky, has become one of the NBA’s best in his third season in the NBA. He showed the Jazz an eyeful Saturday, scoring a career-high 43 points on 16-of-23 shooting with a team-high 14 rebounds. For good measure, he added a pair of steals and a blocked shot and played good defense against Utah’s big men, who collectively didn’t have one of their better nights.

“Obviously Davis is a great player and he had a great game tonight,’’ said Utah coach Quin Snyder. “It’s a real challenge. You can’t give him easy baskets and he got some of those tonight.’’

The Jazz couldn’t find an answer for the talented 6-foot-10 Davis all night. Several Jazz players took a turn guarding the big man with Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Trevor Booker all having no luck stopping Davis.

“There was really never a chance to double him, he goes so quickly when he gets the ball,’’ said Snyder.

“It’s tough — he’s long, he’s athletic, he can shoot over you, he can drive it — he has a lot of assets to his game,’’ said Booker. “I should have tried to guard him a little more. I’m not sure I could have made a difference … he’s a good player.’’

With their second straight loss, the Jazz dropped to 5-9 on the season with a home game against Chicago coming up on Monday night, while the Pelicans improved to 7-5.

For the third straight game the Jazz got off to a slow start and found themselves down by 17 points at halftime. They clawed back within five points after three quarters, but couldn’t get closer as the Pelicans increased their lead down the stretch.

After getting 21 of his points in the first half on 8-of-10 shooting, Davis added 11 points in the third quarter and 11 more in the in the final period.

“It was a special night for him,’’ said New Orleans coach Monty Williams. “He didn’t want to come out of the game, but we had to get him a break (Davis played 40 minutes). He never lost his rhythm. We know he’s a special player and he’s just starting to scratch the surface, but tonight was a big-time night for him.’’

Davis gave credit to his teammates, saying, “My team helped me a lot. All of our guards were finding me and making sure I got the ball in my sweet spots. So then it was my job to knock them down.’’

Jrue Holiday was the only other Pelican player in double figures with 19, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range. He also had nine of the team’s 19 assists.

Both teams had played the night before, although the Jazz starters had played less, barely half the game since Golden State had a 22-point halftime lead and coasted home from there.

The Pelicans had lost by 20 in Denver, but had been in the game until the final quarter, and four of their starters played at least 29 minutes, including 31 from Davis.

That’s what amazed Williams about Davis.

“I told him I don’t take that for granted, a guy who can go for 43 and 14 off a back-to-back with that kind of energy,’’ Williams said.

The two bright spots for the Jazz were Hayward and Trey Burke, who scored 31 and 20 points, respectively. Hayward scored 21 in the second half when he almost singlehandedly kept the Jazz within shouting distance.

But the pair didn’t get much help outside of 10 points and five rebounds off the bench from Booker. Derrick Favors scored just 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, while Enes Kanter finished with eight. Alec Burks had a particularly rough night with two points on 1-of-12 shooting with four turnovers.

As for Fredette, he entered the game with 2:50 left in the third quarter to his usual EnergySolutions reception, a loud mix of cheers and boos. He stayed in for the first half of the fourth quarter, but rarely touched the ball, getting off a 12-foot shot in the lane that rolled around and fell out and a 3-pointer from out front that also missed.

“It was great to be back here to see family and friends that I was so close with the four years I was at BYU,’’ Fredette said. “It’s fun to come back and reminisce and see everyone.’’

After Monday’s game against the Bulls, the Jazz head back on the road for a game at Oklahoma City Wednesday night and a home game against the L.A. Clippers Saturday night.