NBA says Pelicans were told they couldn’t bench Anthony Davis

The NBA said Monday it required the Pelicans to play Anthony Davis, their disgruntled All-Star forward, after he was not dealt last week’s trade deadline because of “league rules governing competitive integrity.”

The Pelicans initially planned to sit Davis for the rest of the season once they responded to his request to be traded by deciding to keep him beyond Thursday’s deadline, according to two people familiar with New Orleans’ stance.

The league office said it intervened because of its rules about resting healthy players, which are in place largely to prevent teams from tanking to improve their draft position.

The Pelicans maintain that they were trying to protect Davis from a serious injury during the final 28 games before the offseason, when they do intend to trade him, according to the people.

Mike Bass, an NBA spokesman, said “the Pelicans were advised that the team had not identified a proper basis” to hold Davis out of games.

“League rules governing competitive integrity therefore require that he be permitted to play,” Bass said.

Bass also denied an ESPN report from last week that said the Pelicans were threatened by the league with per-game fines of $100,000 if they sat Davis when he wanted to play.

Davis, who can be a free agent in 2020, requested a trade from the Pelicans on Jan. 28 but did not insist that he be traded before the deadline.

Monday’s games

Thunder 120, Trail Blazers 111: Russell Westbrook set an NBA record with his 10th straight triple-double, Paul George scored 47 points, and host Oklahoma City beat Portland.

Rockets 120, Mavericks 104: James Harden scored 31 points for his 30th straight 30-point game despite dealing with a strained left shoulder, leading host Houston over Dallas.

Pacers 99, Hornets 90: Myles Turner scored 16 points and Thaddeus Young had 11 points and eight rebounds for host Indiana.

Pistons 121, Wizards 112: Andre Drummond had 32 points and 17 rebounds, and host Detroit extended its winning streak to four.

Raptors 127, Nets 125: Kawhi Leonard banked home the tie-breaking basket with 4.2 seconds remaining and host Toronto edged Brooklyn.

Timberwolves 130, Clippers 120: Derrick Rose (22 points) and Jeff Teague (19) gave a beleaguered backcourt a needed boost and lifted host Minnesota, missing ill Andrew Wiggins, over Los Angeles. Lou Williams scored a season-high 45 points off the bench for the Clippers.

Bucks 112, Bulls 99: Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and had 17 rebounds, Eric Bledsoe added 19 points and visiting Milwaukee outlasted Chicago.

Nuggets 103, Heat 87: Host Denver snapped a three-game skid behind 23 points and 12 rebounds from Nikola Jokic and 20 points from Malik Beasley. The Nuggets improved to 18-1 when holding opponents to less than 100 points.

Cavaliers 107, Knicks 104: Collin Sexton scored 20 points and host Cleveland sent New York to its franchise-record 17th straight loss.

Briefly: The NBA will look into whether rules were broken when Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons inquired about meeting with Lakers President Magic Johnson for playing tips. … The Cavaliers signed guard Nik Stauskas, who was traded three times and released last week, for the rest of the season.

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