Tonight’s Hornets game against the Orlando Magic at the New Orleans Arena proceeded like you might expect between two young teams with dismal records — a back-and-forth contest with long scoreless stretches by each club, sloppy turnovers, 41 combined fouls and other attendant miseries.
There was a lot of everything tonight, but the Magic had a little more of it. They won, 105-102.
“It’s terrible, there’s no other way to slice it,” said Hornets head coach Monty Williams in his post game press conference. “We gave up 69 points in a half against a team that played last night and had a two-hour flight. That to me is not something we should be proud of. Even if we had won the game, I still would have been upset by that defensive effort.”
It’s the first time since 2007 that the Hornets have lost at home to the Magic, who are sitting next-to-last in the Eastern Conference with a 17-44 record.
The Hornets’ 21-40 record makes them second-to-last in the West. Only the Sacramento Kings are playing worse this year in the West; they have the same record as the Hornets but fewer wins in the conference.
There were some high points tonight, including solid scoring stretches by New Orleans such as their 15-0 run to end the first half up by ten, 46-36.
Anthony Davis recorded his twelfth double-double of the season with 17 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots. He didn’t look worse for wear from the shoulder injury that kept him out for the previous two games, though the shoulder was wrapped and he missed a couple of stylish dunks tonight that looked just a bit out of his range.
"It's tough for us," Davis said. "We gave up 69 points in the second half. We're a defensive team. We can't allow ourselves to fall back like that, especially when we had the game in our hands and momentum going our way."
Greivis Vásquez was another standout, and it’s clear to see why he’s a superstar back in his home country of Venezuela. Vásquez led the team with eight assists, and knocked down 17 points on 41.2% shooting. Vásquez has led the team for assists, or tied for it, in every game this season.
The Magic and the Hornets went back-and-forth for much of the game, but it’s the fourth quarter that put it away for the visitors. Orlando outscored New Orleans 35-26 in the final period, with veteran Al Harrington finally giving the Magic the lead for good with 23-foot three-pointer off a dish from guard Arron Affalo with just over a minute to play.
“That shot, in my mind, signifies what [Harrington] is about,” said Affalo after the game. “He wants to win and that was a big moment for him, and he capitalized on it. That’s a tell-tale sign of what he’s about as a whole with the struggles he’s had to come back from his rehab — but to always be ready to compete, to play and to be a poised veteran at the right moment was huge for us.”
Affalo was the Magic’s points leader tonight with 26. He also pulled in five rebounds, and had five assists and a steal. He had 11 points during the Magic’s fourth quarter run.
The Hornets will face the Los Angeles Lakers (30-30) next. The game tips off at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena.
Henry Sims, the new forward signed to a 10-day contract to shore up the Hornets depth after the loss of Jason Smith to a torn labrum, made a brief appearance at the end of the second quarter, but left in place of Roger Mason Jr. with 11 seconds to go in the half.
The Hornets are 2-28 this season when an opponent scores 100 or more points in the game. The Hornets did crack the 100-point mark, however, getting the 11,050 fans in attendance free French fries from participating area McDonald’s tomorrow.
Eric Gordon had 17 points and five assists, and gave up no turnovers. It’s the first time this season Gordon didn’t turn over the ball at least once.
New Orleans tied their season-high block mark with 10. It’s the fourth time this season the Hornets have recorded 10 blocked shots in a game.
The Magic converted 12 Hornets turnovers into 18 points. New Orleans converted just two points off of eight Orlando turnovers. The Magic also outscored NOLA 54-40 in the paint.