The Hornets beat out the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night at the New Orleans Arena, 107-99, led by Anthony Davis, who captured his first regular season double-double (23 points and 11 rebounds).
Both Austin Rivers and Anthony Davis returned to their starting positions last night as they faced off against a Charlotte defense that gives up more points than any other team in the NBA. Davis, drafted this year as the first pick overall, also met up with his former teammate from Kentucky, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was picked second.
Before the game Hornets Head Coach Monty Williams commented on Wednesday’s flat performance against the 76ers and the lessons learned. “We have to know who we are, stay within our boxes. I thought we played out of character last game. Had a lot of guys going things they haven’t done all season.”
Williams also said he would ask much more of the team against the Bobcats. “Take care of the ball. When we take care of the ball we give ourselves a chance to win because we force turnovers.”
Hornets forward Ryan Anderson stated the keys to victory were “turnovers and energy”.
The Hornets committed 20 turnovers in Wednesday’s 77-62 loss to Philadelphia.
First quarter scoring started with center Robin Lopez floating a smooth hook over Charlotte big man Byron Mullens. Lopez continued to score and logged the Hornets’ first six points. New Orleans ended the first quarter shooting 45 percent from the field, with Al-Farouq Aminu three for three with 6 points, and Lopez three for four, also with 6 points.
The second quarter tempo started strong, with Jason Smith recovering the ball twice in the same possession, wrestling rebounds after failed outside attempts by Anderson and Rivers, and finishing with a give-and-go dunk.
This started a Hornets 9-0 run. The Bobcats finally called a timeout at 9:58 when New Orleans guard Roger Mason, Jr. hit a outside jump shot, making the score 30-21.
After the timeout the Bobcats started to respond offensively, with Ramon Sessions penetrating the Hornets defense off the pick and roll for easy points in the paint. Ben Gordon, Bobcat guard, continued to score on Hornets guard Austin Rivers, shooting 3 pointers to keep Charlotte within single digits.
Close to the end of the half Anthony Davis and Byron Mullens got tangled up under the basket when Mullens came over the back of Davis when going for the ball. There was some brief shoving as Davis freed himself, and both centers exchanged heated comments. Kidd-Gilchrist rushed in to lend help, but accidently knocked referee Bill Kennedy into the first row of seats.
The scuffle between the big men seemed to ignite Davis, and after he scored 6 straight. The Hornets took a double digit lead with only 10 seconds left in the half, with Mason, Jr. scoring on free throws after being fouled during a 3-point attempt.
The energy of Anthony Davis continued after halftime; he scored 11 of the Hornets’ 19 points. He brought the lead to 12 with a fast transition lay-up over old teammate Kidd-Gilchrist, who fouled Davis and sent him to the free throw line. Davis made the free throw, making the score 70-58.
In the fourth quarter Ben Gordon brought the Bobcats within 5 points with quick back to back scoring, but this is the closest the Bobcats ever got. Ryan Anderson responded by burying a 3 pointer, and New Orleans’ tenacity on offensive rebounding let them score on second chance points, keeping them ahead to finish the game 107-99.
Anthony Davis finished with 23 points, 9 of 18 from the field, with 11 rebounds and 5 blocks. Aminu added 14 points. Overall the Hornets’ starters contributed 51 points.
The Hornets bench matched the starters’ productivity, with 56 points of their own. Ryan Anderson landed 5 three pointers and added a total of 25 points. Brian Roberts had a personal best with 16 points, 7 of 8 from the field, and 8 assists.
When asked about the scuffle between Davis and Mullins, Monty Williams replied, “We’re not the kind of team that’s going to start fights and act silly in that fashion, but we certainly aren’t going to run from anybody.”
The Hornets, now improved to a 3-2 record, have a long break before their next game this upcoming Wednesday night in Texas against James Harden and the Houston Rockets.