THE FACTS: On a night anticipating the return of Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, it was the combination of New Orleans Hornets' guard Greivis Vasquez and forward Anthony Davis which earned the headlines.
While Irving racked up a game-high 31 points, it wasn't enough to overcome an overwhelming second half by the Hornets (26-48), as New Orleans rolled to a 112-92 victory in front of 11,008 people at the New Orleans Arena.
Vasquez and Davis combined for 42 points (34 in the second half), including a series of alley-oops and clean cuts to basket, propelling the Hornets' to win the third and fourth quarters by a lopsided 64-43 total.
It was the Cavaliers' (22-50) eighth consecutive loss, but the first in the string with Irving on the court, who injured his left shoulder on March 10.
QUOTABLE: "I thought in the first half we got a little jolt from (Irving's return). But I thought it was much better in the first half than it was in the second half. I don't know if we were just tired or whatever the case may be, but they came out with a different mindset. They were aggressive and went after us and we were just kind of on our heels. We tried to pick it up at times, but you can't get down 20 and then decided to start to pick it up. It doesn't work often in this league."
-- Cavaliers' head coach Byron Scott.
THE STAT: Cleveland attempted just three free throws in the second half, illustrating the Cavs' lack of offensive aggression. Meanwhile the Hornets took 17 attempts from the line, making 12. Only Irving (14) and Marresse Speights (8) notched more than four second-half points for the Cavs.
TURNING POINT: Any momentum carried into the locker room by the Cavaliers' 49-48 halftime lead was extinguished and then suffocated six minutes into the third quarter. The Hornets raced out to a 16-2 run, which included three steals and three dunks, energizing the New Orleans Arena crowd. Following the run, the Cavs never closed the gap to fewer than seven points.
QUOTABLE II: "I took it personally and I'm tired of playing against elite point guards and getting my butt kicked just because I'm new at this starting point guard thing. I wasn't going to do anything short of trying to compete and help my team win. We were a little sloppy in the first half, so we got into each other's business a little bit because we wanted to get better. It showed up in the third quarter and then our energy got picked up and we were able to get the win."
-- Vasquez on what motivated him and the Hornets between halves.
HOT: Vasquez scorched the Cavaliers in the third quarter, connecting on all six of his field goal attempts finishing the period with 16 points, three assists and three steals. His 12-minute outburst highlighted a 25-point, nine-assist night, marking his welcome return to the Hornets' rotation after missing two of the past three games due to a left ankle sprain.
NOT: Cleveland only pulled in three offensive rebounds, allowing Davis to clean the defensive glass throughout the night. Meanwhile, the Hornets pulled down nine of their own misses, extending possessions and wrestling away momentum from the Cavs.
NOTABLE: Hornets' forward Ryan Anderson scored 15 points in his first 14 minutes on the floor, en route to a 23-point performance...Anthony Davis' 17 points and 13 rebounds earned him a double-double for the 17th time this season, the most among all rookies...Hornets' reserves outscored the Cavs' bench 49-29...Speights was an exception to Cleveland's futility, the Cavs backup forward scored 12 points and converted 6-of-9 field goal attempts...Hornets' guard Eric Gordon scored 14 points, but managed just two in the second half, missing all five field goal attempts.
UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Wednesday @ Golden State, Friday @ Utah, Sunday @ Phoenix. For the Cavaliers, Monday @ Atlanta, Wednesday vs. Brooklyn, Friday @ Boston.