Anthony Davis is just scratching the surface, and New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams is itching to see how much more the third-year forward can accomplish this season.
Davis scored eight of his 23 points in the final 6 minutes of the fourth quarter, Jrue Holiday had 22 points and eight assists, and the Pelicans beat the Los Angeles Lakers 104-87 on Sunday night.
"He's just special. Nothing fazes him," Williams said. "He had a subpar game for him last night - and I say that jokingly when you look at his numbers. But he didn't play as well as he can play. So for him to come back and close out this game the way that he did - I mean, he's just 21 years old. And when he's 23 to 27, we're going to see something the league has never seen."
Ryan Anderson had 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, helping the Pelicans end a four-game road losing streak that included a 27-point drubbing by the Warriors on Thursday and a 20-point loss to the Clippers on Saturday night.
"We shared the ball, played for each other, defended and played together," Davis said. "We bounced back after two bad losses. To hold a team like that to 87 points and play our style of ball was good for us."
Kobe Bryant had 14 points in 31 minutes for the Lakers (5-16). He and Davis entered Sunday 1-2 in the league in scoring average at 25.8 points and 25.3, respectively.
Reserve Gal Mekel, playing his second game with the Pelicans, gave them their biggest lead at 83-59 on a fast-break layup 46 seconds into the fourth quarter. The Lakers closed to 83-71 with a 12-0 run.
But that was as close as they got, as Davis helped put it away with two layups, a dunk and a 21-footer that gave New Orleans a 100-81 cushion with 2:54 left.
With his team allowing an average of 111.2 points entering Sunday, first-year Lakers coach Byron Scott inserted power forward Ed Davis and point guard Ronnie Price into his starting unit while Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin came off the bench.
"If you look at our record, we have to make changes - at least think I do," Scott said. "As a coach, I'm not going to stand pat and just watch it continue to be played this way. So to me, it was a no-brainer. The reason is obviously on the defensive end. The last five games I've been thinking about this."
That ended Boozer's streak of 588 straight games as a starter. The 13-year veteran and two-time All-Star had 12 points and six rebounds over 23 minutes in his first game as a reserve since March 14, 2006, with Utah at Miami.
Holiday's 12 points paced New Orleans to a 50-40 halftime lead.
Nick Young, who was so upset following the Lakers' 113-96 loss at Boston on Friday night that he walked away from a TV interview at his locker after just 15 seconds, missed his first six shots against the Pelicans before hitting a 3-pointer that trimmed the Lakers' deficit to 63-57 with 4:28 left in the third.
Pelicans: Anthony Davis scored 25 points against the Lakers on Nov. 12 in a 109-102 victory at New Orleans. He is averaging 21.5 in eight career games against the Lakers, his highest against any club. He dropped 32 on them Nov. 8, 2013. ... Eric Gordon, who called Staples Center home for three seasons with the Clippers, missed his seventh straight game because of a sore left shoulder.
Lakers: Bryant needs 63 points to overtake Michael Jordan's total of 32,292 career points for third place on the career list. ... Boozer came in averaging 17.0 points and 9.9 rebounds in his 768 career starts, and 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in 41 games as a reserve. Lin came in averaging 14.1 points and 5.9 assists in 160 career starts, compared to 7.2 points and 2.7 assists in 77 games off the bench. ... Young finished 3 for 13 from the field.
Lin played 20 minutes, finishing with three points and four assists. The five-year veteran started all 82 games in 2012-13 with Houston, but came off the bench in 44 of his 71 games with the Rockets last season before the Lakers acquired him on July 15.
Pelicans: Host New York on Tuesday.
Lakers: Host Sacramento on Tuesday.
(Previous versions of this story incorrectly said that Anthony Davis overtook Kobe Bryant for the NBA scoring lead. Bryant is slightly ahead.)