The New Orleans Hornets put on an impressive performance Wednesday night, crushing the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 99-63.
New Orleans lead by as much as 39 late into the fourth quarter, and dominated in the paint, outscoring the Blazers down low by a 52-26 margin.
Star guard Eric Gordon was scratched from the starting lineup at the last minute due to a sprained hand, but New Orleans hardly needed him. Every Hornets player who dressed put up points tonight, including five players in the double-digits.
Rookie Forward Anthony Davis was the star of the show, notching his ninth double-double and fourth 20-10 of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Davis shot 10-for-17 from the floor, and buried three crowd-pleasing dunks, including a put-back slam in the first quarter that drew a huge roar from the crowd of 11,656.
“We got our butts kicked,” said Portland Head Coach Terry Stotts after the game. “We didn’t play well and they were prepared for us, and obviously we didn’t play a very good game. Defense kind of kept us in it for the first half. We couldn’t get anything going offensively, and it was a long night.”
There were a lot of missed shots tonight, with both teams shooting less than 50 percent overall, but the Hornets’ 41-for-87 from the floor was more than enough to take the contest; they kept the Blazers to 32.4 percent on the night, and only 26.3 percent in the second quarter.
“It is embarrassing. One of the most embarrassing nights of the year,” said Portland’s Forward Nicolas Batum.
“We just got after it tonight and stuck with the game plan,” said Davis after the game. “We kept talking, and when we do that it’s hard to beat us.”
There’s one margin the Hornets didn’t manage to surpass tonight, however — much to the ire of the crowd.
As the game wound down in the fourth quarter and New Orleans crept closer to a victory, the crowd became visibly and audibly electric. The ovation for Davis, who left the game with 1:43 to play and a Hornets 95-59 lead, drew out into a sustained, near-fevered pitch.
You see, when the Hornets score 100 points or more, everyone with that night’s game program gets free McDonalds french fries.
The Hornets kept chipping away during the next minute, getting to within one point with 11.6 seconds to go. And then Lance Thomas went to the line on a chance to win it all with two free throws.
He missed his first.
The boos rained down, and the crowd made for the exits.
“I didn’t realize what I was shooting for until I missed it,” Thomas told WWL-TV. “I was like, what are they booing me for? And then I realized French fries. We only had 98 points.”
Brian Roberts got the ball back with about three seconds to go, but Monty told him to hold it. Putting up superfluous points is bad form, at any rate.
The boos rained down again, straight through the final buzzer.
“I’ve just got to man up and buy them,” Thomas tweeted after the game.
And he will.
Thomas said he will buy a small fry for any fan who shows up to the McDonalds on Canal Street with their ticket stub and game program between 7-8 p.m. tonight.
There are three McDonalds restaurants on Canal Street. It’s not clear which one he means.
The Hornets head into the All-Star break having won four of their last five. Their next game will be at home against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 19.
Brian Roberts after the game:
Trail Blazers Guard Wesley Matthews left the game in the first quarter with a sprained ankle and did not return. “It’s pretty frustrating with a five game losing streak,” he said after the game. “We wanted to go out with a good taste in our mouth going into the All-Star break, still being so close into the playoff race, and we’re still not out of it by any means. To be injured in the first minute-and-a-half and not be able to fight with my team was tough.”
The Hornets only turned the ball over seven times tonight, a season low. New Orleans is now 4-2 when they turn the ball over less than 10 times.
Portland sunk just two 3-pointers tonight, a meager 11.8 percent, and were 0-9 from outside in the first half.
The Hornets franchise low for opponent points was set on Dec. 20, 2000, when they held the Miami Heat to 56.