Anthony Davis believes struggling Pelicans can turn things around

BOSTON -- The New Orleans Pelicans saw their seesaw season stay true to form Monday night, losing 113-100 to the Boston Celtics to fall two games out of a playoff spot in the jumbled-up Western Conference standings.

But despite their uneven play, star forward Anthony Davis remains convinced that if New Orleans can ever get fully healthy, the Pelicans are capable of replicating -- and possibly exceeding -- last season's trip to the Western Conference semifinals.

"For sure," he said after scoring 41 points to go with 7 rebounds in Monday's loss. "We had everybody healthy the first four games, and we went 4-0. Then Elfrid [Payton] goes down, I've been out a couple games, Niko [Mirotic] ... a lot of guys have been out.

"Every time we've had a full roster, we've been a tough team to beat. But we still have to find a way to win. Injuries are part of the game, you can't control them. That's why we have 12 guys on the roster.

"You just need five guys to play. As long as you have that, you have a chance to win."

In truth, the Pelicans often don't need much more than Davis -- who, even as he spent much of the game looking hobbled by a right hip contusion he suffered Sunday in Detroit that saw him listed as questionable to play in Monday's game, still managed to score at least 40 points for the fourth time this season.

Davis joins James Harden, Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard as the only players in the league this season to score 40 or more four times. The fact that he looked worn down from the Pelicans' heavy schedule, coupled with the hip issue, only underscores just how talented he really is -- which is precisely why the Celtics, and so many other teams around the NBA, are constantly surveying the situation in New Orleans to see if Davis will sign the supermax contract extension he will undoubtedly be offered next summer.

If he doesn't sign it, the Pelicans will have no choice but to trade him. If it comes to that, there will be no shortage of suitors, with Boston obviously among them.

Davis, though, said he wasn't thinking about any of that.

"I heard it tonight," the 25-year-old said when asked if he heard the local fans cheering for him during the game. "But I'm just focused on this team. I'm trying to do whatever I can to help this team get wins with the roster we have. It's been a rocky season, so it's on me to try to figure it out.

"I know the team follows me. I'm the leader and I've got to be the one to make sure that we're ready to play every night. So for me, I just go out there and play with this team and go out there and try to have fun and get wins. That's all I'm worried about is getting wins for this team and hopefully we can get further than we did last year."

To do that, New Orleans will have to get healthy. In the five games its starting lineup has played -- Payton, Jrue Holiday, E'Twaun Moore, Mirotic and Davis -- the Pelicans are 5-0. That group has outscored its opponents by 42 points in just 65 minutes together this season -- a sign of what it can do if it can get on the floor.

Doing that has been difficult, though. Payton has missed all but a handful of games because of multiple injuries, while Mirotic injured his ankle Monday night. Moore sat out with a calf strain and Davis looked hobbled, at best. The fact New Orleans has played more games (29) than any other team in the league, and hasn't had more than one day off between games since Nov. 10, hasn't helped matters.

That will finally change later this week, however. After hosting the Thunder on Wednesday, the Pelicans will only play once -- at home again Sunday against the Miami Heat -- in a week.

"Any time you get days off you get a chance to let your body heal, it's good for you," Davis said. "So [I'm] just trying to get days off [and] get treatment so you can recover, and kind of move on to the next game."

Perhaps that will be enough to get the Pelicans back to the form they had in those opening four games and away from the indifferent, inconsistent version of themselves they've been since -- including alternating wins and losses for the past nine games.

"We've been winning one, losing one, winning one, losing one, for the last eight or nine games," Davis said. "We have to string a few together."