NEW ORLEANS — DeMarcus Cousins had 40 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks, and the New Orleans Pelicans won for the second time in three games without Anthony Davis, defeating the Denver Nuggets 123-114 on Wednesday night.
Jrue Holiday scored 27 points and E'Twaun Moore had 14 for New Orleans, which shot 53.5 percent (46 of 86).
Gary Harris scored 24 for the short-handed Nuggets, who remained without recently injured frontcourt stalwarts Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap.
Emmanuel Mudiay scored 17 points, while Will Barton and Jamal Murray each scored 15 for the Nuggets, who were as close as 97-94 after Malik Beasley's 3 with 11:25 to go, only to fade down the stretch.
New Orleans went on a decisive 20-3 run during which Cousins scored six points and blocked two shots. It marked the second time this season Cousins had at least 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game.
The Nuggets made 10 of 19 3-point attempts in the first half, when they shot 51 percent overall and led by as many as 10 points. But that wasn't enough to take a lead into halftime.
In a half largely devoid of defense, New Orleans shot nearly 57 percent, including 6 of 12 from deep. Cousins had 19 points and 10 rebounds in the first two quarters, and gave New Orleans a 65-64 lead shortly before halftime when he converted a spinning dribble-drive into layup as he was fouled.
Holiday, who also scored 19 in the half, made a couple of free throws to put New Orleans up 67-66 at halftime.
Nuggets: Trey Lyles had 10 points and 11 rebounds. ... Jokic missed his third straight game with a left ankle sprain, while Millsap missed his eighth straight with a left wrist injury. ... Barton was assessed a technical foul for arguing after officials called a defensive foul on Denver on Cousins' missed layup.
Pelicans: Davis missed his third straight game with a strained left adductor. His status for New Orleans' next game remains unclear. ... Tony Allen was called for a technical foul in the third quarter for complaining to officials from the bench that they'd blown a call when they gave possession to Denver after replays clearly showed the ball going out off of a Nuggets player. ... Miller has made at least one 3 in 17 straight games.
Nuggets: Visit Orlando on Friday night.
Pelicans: Host Sacramento on Friday night.