The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, with Anthony Davis remaining a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.
He was back in the lineup Friday night, returning from a finger injury that had held him out the previous nine games.
Some Pelicans fans made it clear they were no longer behind him, though, showering him with boos during pregame introductions as well as every time he touched the ball. It should be noted, though, that there were cheers for Davis as well throughout, and that the boos directed at him turned to cheers when he put in his first two baskets of the night.
It was a bit of a surreal scene, but understandable that Davis would receive this reaction. After all, the 25-year-old who was the first overall pick in the 2012 draft demanded a trade away from the team and city.
But he wasn’t traded and barring injury, Davis has to play regularly the remainder of this season, per NBA rules. He’s also still the Pelicans’ best player. If he is going to receive this reaction for the Pelicans’ remaining home dates, things are going to be awkward at the Smoothie King Center.
Davis mostly quieted the boo-birds – with the most notable exceptions being a few trips to the free-throw line – with a great performance. He scored 32 points on 11-for-15 shooting and a 10-for-11 mark at the line, while pulling down nine rebounds in just 25 minutes.
“It’s kind of hard to boo somebody when he had like, 30 points in 20 minutes,” teammate Jrue Holiday quipped postgame while noting the decrease in boos throughout the game.
Davis said the booing was awkward but added, “I don’t care, it doesn’t bother me.”
“That’s life, man,” Davis said. “Some people aren’t going to like it. I worry about playing basketball.
“I just love the game, love playing. Me and all these guys in here have a special relationship. And so obviously I want to be on the floor with them. They wanted me on the floor. And it was as simple as that.
“The other stuff, the outside noise, Twitter rants, it’s all good. It doesn’t bother me. I want to play and being able to go out there and to be able to play the game I love for 25 minutes, it was fun.”
Davis did not play the fourth quarter. The Pelicans pulled out of an early 18-point hole and won 122-117.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters after the game that Davis didn’t play in the fourth quarter because of an agreed-upon minutes restriction in his first game back.
“I was not going to have him – first game back – play 38, 40 minutes,” Gentry said. “We had talked about playing between 22 and 25 minutes. That’s why he didn’t go back in the game. I thought he played well the minutes that he was in there and did a great job. He was typical Anthony.”
Contributing: Associated Press
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