DENVER (AP) Kenneth Faried was all smiles in Denver’s locker room. And with good reason.
The Nuggets’ forward scored a career-high 34 points and added 13 rebounds to lead Denver to a 137-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
“When I got my second foul, I sat down and looked up said, `Wow, I have nine (points) already. I haven’t really played that much. This might be a career game,'” Faried said. “That’s what I love to do – have fun and play basketball. When it’s that exciting and that much fun you have no worries, really. You just think about winning.
“Coach (Brian Shaw) wanted me to impose my will on (the Pelicans’) Anthony Davis … not shy away or back down.”
That wasn’t an issue in the second half, when Davis sat out with back spasms. He finished with six points and three rebounds. Tyreke Evans scored 27 points to lead New Orleans.
The Nuggets raced to a 40-26 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back, making 15 of 27 3-pointers compared to 2 of 9 for New Orleans, a 39-point difference. The 137 points tied the Nuggets’ season scoring high.
“They (Nuggets) just ran up and down the court and did what they wanted to do. They did make some unbelievable 3s, they were on fire tonight,” Evans said. “We knew that at the beginning of the game Faried was going to come out aggressive and we didn’t do a good job of stopping him.”
The Pelicans had no answers inside for Faried, who went unchecked numerous times for backdoor dunks and easy short jumpers.
“I think that is how Faried should be playing,” teammate Ty Lawson said. “I compare him to a little bit like Charles Barkley the way he can get the ball to the rim, make good decisions and pass it.”
Faried’s previous career best was 32 points against the Lakers on March 7.
“He is succeeding in areas he has struggled in before and so that is just making him supremely confident,” Shaw said. “When you have that (confidence) then the game starts to slow down for you.”
The Pelicans trailed 71-53 at halftime. The 71 points were the most they allowed in the first half this season. The previous high was 64 points twice.
“We didn’t play well to start the game. In the month of March we set a high bar for how we can play, regardless of who’s on the floor,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. “Since I’ve been here we’ve never given up these type of numbers with our defense.”
Denver led 105-81 after three quarters and cruised to the victory from there.
“That’s the toughest part for me, allowing teams to score like that,” Williams said. “Thought they had way too many easy points in the paint.”
Reserve Aaron Brooks scored 24 points for Denver, going 6 of 8 from beyond the arc.
“I just wanted to be more aggressive. Talked to coach before the game and he said he wanted at least three, so I got that quota,” Brooks said. “The big guy (Davis) wasn’t in there (in the second half), and once he’s out it’s time to attack the rim. We shared the ball and had a lot of assists.”
The victory moved the Nuggets ahead of the Pelicans for 11th place in the Western Conference and gave them a split of the four-game season series.
The Nuggets led in assists (34-21) and blocks (12-7) and committed fewer turnovers (11-16).
The Pelicans held a 42-40 rebounding edge.
NOTES: Nuggets F Wilson Chandler missed his sixth straight game with a left groin strain. … Pelicans G Eric Gordon missed his seventh consecutive game with tendinitis in his left knee. … The Nuggets tied their season high with 12 blocks. . The Nuggets’ 15 3-pointers tied their season high.
By RICHARD J. MARCUS, Associated Press
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