Hornets.com postgame: Bulls 96, Hornets 87

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Bulls (31-22), Hornets (19-35)

It was over when… Chicago’s Luol Deng drilled a mid-range jumper with 44 seconds remaining, giving the Bulls a three-possession edge at 94-87. A lengthy scoring drought during the latter portion of the fourth quarter proved costly for the Hornets, who kept staying within striking distance but couldn’t pull into a lead. New Orleans opened its post-All-Star schedule with a loss, ending a modest two-game win streak from last week. 

Hornets MVP: In one example of the kind of night it was for Anthony Davis, he had a modest seven points at halftime – yet already seemed to have made the highlight reel a handful of times. Davis had two head-turning slams, along with an and-one layup in which he gathered in a long pass and scored at the rim, all in one motion, over a Chicago defender. Davis finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, but the stat sheet couldn’t quite accurately capture the rookie’s performance. “I thought he played extremely well tonight,” Greivis Vasquez said. “I thought he saved me a couple turnovers (by tracking down) passes. He looks very athletic. Playing against an All-Star (Chicago’s Joakim Noah) is not easy. He showed some toughness. He played well.” 

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: The in-arena honor went to Jason Smith (8 points, 3 rebounds in 14 minutes), but that kind of production has become expected from the 7-footer. Let’s go with Brian Roberts, who has shot better in recent weeks after going through a rough stretch. Roberts finished with seven points in 13 minutes, going 3-for-6 from the field. He also handed out four assists to counteract three turnovers. 

The buzz on… Davis poised to make his NBA national television debut Wednesday in Cleveland. The Hornets will make their second appearance on the national airwaves of the 2012-13 season tomorrow against the Cavaliers. The first did not go well for the club, with New Orleans losing an ugly 77-62 home game to Philadelphia. Davis also was forced to sit out against the 76ers after he had sustained a concussion just five days earlier. As a result, Wednesday’s 7 p.m. Central contest in Ohio will be a nationwide audience’s first chance to watch the Kentucky product as a professional. Over the past few days, ESPN commercials for Hornets-Cavs have billed it as a meeting between each of the past two No. 1 overall picks, Davis and All-Star guard Kyrie Irving. Though both players were “one-and-dones” in college, played for elite NCAA programs and were selected at the top of the draft board, the similarities more or less end there. Irving, whose father was a former pro player overseas, appeared to be a finished product from the first time he put on an NBA uniform – he’s already one of the premier long-range shooters and scorers at his position. Davis, who was still a guard a few years ago, prior to a rapid growth spurt, will take longer to develop into a standout in the NBA. But as Tuesday’s game demonstrated, Davis’ natural ability and skill already make him effective. One of the next steps is to become more consistent and put his imprint on games on a nightly basis.