Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 110, Kings 95
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Hornets (20-37), Kings (19-38)
It was over when… Ryan Anderson drilled a three-pointer from the left wing, giving New Orleans a 100-85 lead with 4:07 remaining, while also ensuring free French fries for fans by eclipsing the century mark in points. New Orleans went on to record one of its most convincing victories of the season, the second time in the last four home games that the Hornets prevailed by 15 points or more.
Hornets MVP: Anthony Davis (20 points, 8 rebounds) did some solid work prior to the All-Star break, but since the multi-day midseason hiatus, he looks like a different player. With a renewed focus on running the floor in transition and capitalizing on his unique athleticism and wingspan, the 6-foot-10 Davis appears to be doing a better job of playing to his strengths. The results have been evident lately, in the form of frequent easy baskets and slams. For instance, in Sunday’s game, the No. 1 overall pick had six dunks among his nine baskets. Several Hornets said that Monty Williams recently emphasized to the team’s frontcourt players the advantages of outhustling opposing big men down the floor. Davis’ highlight reel has grown exponentially in part due to the simple change in approach.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Since around Christmas, shooting guard Roger Mason has quietly played some excellent basketball for the Hornets, despite his role fluctuating based on the availability of Eric Gordon and the minutes allotment for Austin Rivers. Mason connected for 13 points in just 17 minutes, including 3-for-4 shooting from three-point range. After a subpar individual start to 2012-13, Mason is now up to a scorching 43.3 percent for the season on long balls. “I felt real good, and part of being a pro is just staying ready,” the Virginia product explained about his production amid nightly uncertainty about his minutes. Mason tallied 10 points in the fourth quarter alone, part of the Hornets' 31-22 edge. Fellow reserve Ryan Anderson had 12 of his 16 points in the fourth.
The buzz on… high praise for New Orleans backup big man Jason Smith. Following Sunday’s victory, Williams spoke at length about Smith, who in many ways symbolizes what the Hornets have tried to become in their post-Chris Paul era. Smith, who had another solid game with eight points and four rebounds in 15 minutes, was called “the heartbeat of our team,” by the third-year head coach. Williams: “I feel he’s an X factor for us. He’s a big-time professional. He’s grown into his role. He came here and was a bit of a project. To see where he’s going and how he approaches the game with his mindset, says a lot about our program. Guys can come here and get better. He’s our leader. He’s the heartbeat of our team. He doesn’t talk a lot. He just goes out there and gets it done, and when he does say something, everybody listens. Everybody wants someone like Jason on their team.” As much as any Hornet, Smith seems to have embraced and grasped some of Williams’ core principles, such as professionalism, effort and a focus on improvement. Smith even repeated one of Williams’ frequent sayings after Sunday’s win. “He always says ‘Humble enough to prepare, confident enough to perform,’ ” Smith explained in the locker room. “I really think our team is trying to take that to heart. We’re taking a conscious effort to get better.”