HOUSTON - If the drama between Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans is frustrating his teammates, it didn’t show in their return to the court Tuesday night.
Jahlil Okafor scored 27 points and the short-handed Pelicans overcame a big early deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 121-116 in their first game since Davis’ agent said the five-time All-Star wants to be traded. Davis sat out his fifth straight game with a sprained left index finger, but Okafor and Jrue Holiday rallied New Orleans despite 37 points from Houston’s James Harden.
“It wasn’t no drama to us,” Okafor said. “A.D.’s here. He took us all to dinner last night. There’s not really any drama for us. I know there’s a lot of noise on the outside, but in the locker room we’re still all together. We still love A.D. He still loves us. . . . So we’re all great.”
Harden extended his streak of 30-point games to 24, but he had a tough shooting night, making 11 of 32 overall and going 6 for 18 from 3-point range. He had 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni credited Holiday for making things tough on Harden.
“Jrue Holiday is probably one of the best defenders in the league, if not the best,” he said. “Obviously he did a heck of a job on him.”
Holiday had 19 points, eight assists, six rebounds and a career-high six blocks for New Orleans.
“Obviously beating a team of this caliber and doing it on their home floor is rewarding,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “I just think that the guys that we put out there they play extremely hard.”
New Orleans used an 8-2 run to make it 114-102 with 3½ minutes left. Holiday had six points for the Pelicans in that span, and Houston missed seven straight shots.
The Rockets got going after that, using a 12-4 spurt — with 10 points from Harden — to get within 118-114 with 22.4 seconds left. Kenrich Williams missed two free throws after that, but Harden turned the ball over, and Houston opted to foul Tim Frazier.
He made one of two free throws to extend the lead to five with 12.1 seconds remaining. Harden was fouled on a 3-pointer and made two of three to cut the lead to three with 6.3 seconds left, but Holiday made two free throws to secure the victory.
“Everything was hard tonight because we weren’t stopping them, and when that happens obviously we paid the price,” D’Antoni said.
The Pelicans snapped a three-game skid amid the Davis drama. Davis’ agent also said the star big man won’t sign an extension with the team, a move that earned Davis a $50,000 fine because the league office said he violated a collectively bargained rule prohibiting players or their representatives from making public trade demands. Davis chatted with teammates while watching the game from the end of the bench.
“That’s going to play out the way it plays out,” Gentry said. “I don’t talk about it very much. I think it’s out in the public now, and I think everything that needed to be said has been said.”
Bucks 115, Pistons 105
In Detroit, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 21 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds to help Milwaukee beat the Pistons, keeping the distinction of being the league’s only team without two straight losses.
The NBA-leading Bucks improved to 13-0 after losing a game.
Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez scored 12 of his 14 points in the first quarter when Antetokounmpo was limited to three points because he sat about half the quarter with two fouls.
Reggie Jackson matched a season high with 25 points, Andre Drummond had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Blake Griffin had 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Pistons, who have lost four of five.
Spurs 126, Suns 124
In San Antonio, Rudy Gay hit a 21-foot jumper at the buzzer and the Spurs overcame Devin Booker’s 38 points to escape with a victory, extending Phoenix’s losing streak to nine games.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 14 rebounds for San Antonio, which is 2-0 on a four-game homestand despite playing without injured DeMar DeRozan. Gay finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Suns lost their 11th straight in San Antonio.
After losing its previous four games by an average of 23 points, Phoenix tied this one with 19.6 seconds remaining.
With time winding down, Gay was isolated and hit a jumper as the clock expired to help San Antonio avoid an upset.
Thunder 126, Magic 117
In Orlando, Paul George had 37 points, Russell Westbrook posted another triple-double, and Dennis Schroder scored 18 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to rally Oklahoma City past the Magic for its sixth straight victory.
Westbrook had 23 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists in his fourth consecutive triple-double.
76ers 121, Lakers 105
In Los Angeles, Joel Embiid scored 28 points, Jimmy Butler added 20 and Philadelphia cruised past the Lakers.
Brandon Ingram had a career-high 36 points for short-handed Los Angeles, which was missing Kyle Kuzma (hip) along with LeBron James and Lonzo Ball.
Embiid, who also grabbed 11 rebounds, had his NBA-leading 34th game with at least 20 points and 10 boards. He appeared to hurt his back early in the fourth quarter when he fell on an alley-oop attempt but returned later in the game.
Nets 122, Bulls 117
In New York, D’Angelo Russell scored 30 points, Shabazz Napier had 24 off the bench and Brooklyn beat Chicago for its ninth straight win at home.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 18 points and Joe Harris had 17 for the Nets, who have won 13 of their last 14 at Barclays Center and seven of eight overall.
Cavaliers 116, Wizards 113
In Cleveland, Jordan Clarkson scored 28 points, Cedi Osman had 26 and the Cavaliers held off Washington’s fourth-quarter comeback.
Cleveland matched a season high with 15 3-pointers and built a 25-point lead in the fourth before Washington’s reserves roared back. Jordan McRae’s two foul shots with 18 seconds remaining cut the margin to three.
Ante Zizic had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Nance added 13 points with 11 rebounds.
The Cavaliers won back-to-back games for the second time this season.
Bradley Beal scored 31 but Washington lost in Cleveland for the second time this season.