NEW ORLEANS – Anthony Davis swatted away Pau Gasol's shot, quickly sprinted toward the other end of the court, took a pass from Eric Gordon and rolled in a driving layup as Jodie Meeks fouled him.
Davis smiled widely and allowed himself a slight fist-pump as his momentum carried him over the baseline. He then sauntered back to free throw line and finished his game-sealing three-point play while a jubilant New Orleans Arena crowd chanted "M-V-P!"
Davis finished with a career-high 32 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and tied a career best with six blocks, leading the New Orleans Pelicans over the Los Angeles Lakers 96-85 on Friday night.
"I mean, he's the franchise. He's that guy. He's the go-to guy and everybody here knows it," said guard Jrue Holiday, whose 13 points and 13 assists gave him his first double-double with New Orleans. "We want him to be that guy. It's awesome to see."
Gordon scored 16 for the Pelicans, who led most of the way in their second straight win. New Orleans had lost 11 regular-season games in a row to the Lakers.
New Orleans broke open a tight contest with a 12-0 run in the final 3:16 that started with Davis' 16-foot jumper and included his fast-break two-handed jam, his block of Gasol and his fast-break layup.
"He's a special player because he's athletic," Gasol said. "He's able to block a shot on one end and sprint to the other end and get a layup ... so you really have to keep up with him because he creates a threat to you that's a little different than other players.
"He's got a good shooting touch. He's got a complete package for his second year in the league," Gasol added. "It's pretty impressive."
The performance forced Pelicans coach Monty Williams to abandon his usual refrain that Davis, the 2012 top overall draft choice, is only "scratching the surface" of his capabilities.
"I don't know what he's scratching, but I know he works his tail off," Williams said. "We're going to enjoy seeing nights like this from him."
Davis matter-of-factly said he was pleased to see results from the work he put into his game since last season ended.
"I work on certain things and try to apply it during the game. That's why you work out. That's why you have summer sessions and work with the coaches, work with the team, trainers, whoever, to get better," Davis said. "I'd be disappointed in myself if I hadn't gotten better."
Chris Kaman led Los Angeles with 16 points, while Nick Young and Steve Blake each scored 13.
Steve Nash was in uniform but did not play, part of what coach Mike D'Antoni described as a plan to rest the 39-year-old point guard in the second of games played on back-to-back nights. The Lakers had won in Houston a night earlier and did not arrive in New Orleans until 3 a.m.
Gasol had nine points and 11 rebounds, but said his team needs him to perform better than that when stars like Nash and Kobe Bryant are out.
"I've got to be sharper. I've just got to play a little smarter," Gasol said. "I might not have all the speed and explosiveness that I used to have years ago, but I still have to use my experience and my fundamentals to be able to be effective every single night regardless of who we're playing."
Jordan Hill pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds for the Lakers. Jason Smith scored 14 points for New Orleans.
Davis asserted himself in the opening minutes by rising to tip a missed shot three times before it finally dropped in for his first points. He scored soon after by slamming home another missed shot and hitting an 18-footer. By the time the first half was over, had 15 points and 10 rebounds, helping New Orleans to a 55-48 lead.
"Guys are looking for him now a consistent basis," Williams said. "When you get out and beat everybody down the floor and you get layup and dunk after dunk, he makes it easy on everybody else."
NOTES: Outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern, who'll step down at the All-Star break in New Orleans in February, attended the game in what is his last planned official visit to the Big Easy in his current post. Those honoring Stern included Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. After the first quarter, Stern was presented with a framed Pelicans jersey bearing his last name and the No. 30, a nod to his three decades as commissioner. Stern was influential in securing New Orleans' future as an NBA city both after Hurricane Katrina and in 2010, when the NBA made the unprecedented move of purchasing the team from then-owner George Shinn and finding a buyer committed to keeping the club in Louisiana long-term. That buyer was Tom Benson, who also owns of the NFL's Saints. After Katrina, Stern said, "We were determined to do our best to do everything possible to make sure that we would be a part of what we knew would be the growth and redemption of New Orleans. And we did it."