By Brett Martel, AP Sports Writer
Jusuf Nurkic scored 23 points, Will Barton added 22, and the Denver Nuggets survived a dominant performance by Anthony Davis to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-102 in both teams’ regular season opener Wednesday night.
Davis had 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks. His production helped New Orleans trim a deficit as large as 14 late in the second quarter down to two points in the waning minutes. He simply didn’t have enough help.
The rest of the Pelicans combined to shoot 21 of 58. Tim Frazier scored 15 for the Pelicans. E’Twaun Moore added 10 points, but missed a 3-point attempt that could have tied it with 24 seconds left.
Danilo Gallinari scored 15 for Denver and Wilson Chandler added 12 points.
Denver built its largest lead when Barton hit a 3 and a layup to spark a 9-2 run that made 60-46 in the final minute of the second quarter.
The Nuggets still led by 10, at 87-77, when Kenneth Faried’s hook shot from 5 feet opened scoring in the fourth quarter, but New Orleans managed to keep its deficit within single digits for most of the final period, pulling as close as 98-84 on Frazier’s driving layup. A few possessions later, Davis cut into the lane for a layup that pulled the Pelicans to 100-98 with 2:32 to go and brought the crowd to its feet.
Denver, which had shot 46.9 percent (30 of 64) through three quarters, made just seven of 19 field goals in the fourth quarter as New Orleans turned up its defensive intensity. But the Nuggets played solid defense of their own, forcing a pair of missed shots and a Davis turnover in the final half-minute.
Denver also made seven of eight free throws in the final 1:39.