NEW ORLEANS — Sprinting for a loose ball, Anthony Davis found himself attempting to leap the first three rows of seats along the sideline and was flooded with memories of the lower back injury he wound up with the last time he did something like that.
"When it was happening, I just started to, like, (have) deja vu," Davis said, adding that he knew coach Alvin Gentry would deem that play unnecessarily risky. "I landed and I just started shaking my head. I went to coach and went, 'My bad.' But it's just playing hard and trying to get some wins and do whatever I can."
Davis did plenty against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night, scoring 32 points to lead the Pelicans to a 115-99 victory for New Orleans fourth win in five games.
After a horrendous start, the Pelicans are starting to look like the team Gentry envisioned when he took over last offseason. They're pushing the tempo, moving the ball and scoring a lot. Their only loss in the last five games came at Memphis by two points. Three of their last four victories have come by double digits.
"We're just playing desperate. That's it," Davis said. "That's how we've got to play from here on out. Like coach said, in a couple weeks we're going to see where our season goes — whether it's just playing it out or every game matters."
Tyreke Evans had 22 points and 10 assists for the Pelicans, who raced to a 72-53 halftime lead and never allowed Detroit to get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
The game was the first for New Orleans since starting shooting guard Eric Gordon was ruled out for four to six weeks with a broken ring finger in his shooting hand. Norris Cole was moved into the starting lineup and responded with 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Ryan Anderson scored 13 points and Omer Asik added 12 for New Orleans.
Andre Drummond had 19 points and 22 rebounds for Detroit, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 23 and Brandon Jennings 20.
Despite Drummond's prowess in the paint, New Orleans dominated inside, scoring 60 points from close range.
Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy called his team's first-half effort "deplorable," adding that he was disappointed to see his team constantly come out flat on the heels of encouraging victories like the one the Pistons had in Houston on Wednesday.
"We look like a team that is firmly committed to being mediocre," Van Gundy said. "In the first half we played nine guys. I thought one guy put out a good effort defensively. ... Aaron Baynes tried hard and I thought the other eight guys virtually put nothing into it on anything."
The Pelicans shot 65.9 percent (29 of 44) in the first half, when they also made all 10 of their free throws and set a season high for points in a half.
"We did a good job of getting off to a good start, knowing they had a back-to-back," Evans said. "We're desperate, man. We want to win and get to the playoffs."
Detroit showed signs of life when Jennings hit a 3, a 9-foot step-back, a driving layup and a couple free throws during a 19-2 Pistons run spanning from late in the third quarter to early in the fourth. Stanley Johnson's layup capped the run and pulled the Pistons to 90-81. They simply couldn't sustain it.
Evans responded with a driving layup and Davis added a mid-range jumper to push the Pelicans' lead back to 13, and the gap remained in double digits the rest of the way.
Davis shrugged off news that he had not been voted an All-Star starter.
"I don't care," Davis said. "I'm worried about what's in this locker room."
Pistons: Detroit missed 22 of 29 3-point attempts. ... The Pistons have lost seven straight to the Pelicans. ... Drummond was seven rebounds short of his season and career high of 29 rebounds in a game.
Pelicans: Newly acquired guard Bryce Dejean-Jones was in the lineup as a reserve but did not play. ... Gentry elected to keep guard Jrue Holiday in a reserve point guard role rather than having him start at shooting guard for Gordon. Holiday scored six points on an off shooting night (3 of 11), but Gentry said he was happy with how the team played with Cole as a starter and that he likes Holiday in his current role.
Pistons: visit Denver on Saturday night.
Pelicans: host Milwaukee on Saturday night.