Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 114, Kings 105

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Hornets (14-27), Kings (16-26)

It was over when… Eric Gordon sank a pair of free throws with 1:40 remaining, giving New Orleans a 111-99 lead. The Hornets built a 25-point halftime lead, then held off the Kings’ comeback push in the second half, despite Sacramento’s late parade to the free-throw line. The Kings got back into it with a 37-23 third quarter, but couldn’t quite get within striking distance in the fourth. New Orleans improved to 8-4 since Dec. 29, after starting the season 6-23. 

Hornets MVP: Ryan Anderson didn’t seem to miss for one lengthy stretch of the first half, rolling to 19 points prior to intermission, which spearheaded New Orleans’ 64-39 halftime edge. Anderson finished the game with a team-best 27 points, including seven three-pointers (one shy of his career high in treys). “We think every shot that Ryan takes is going to go in,” Jason Smith credited. “It always looks like it’s going in. We have confidence in every shot he takes. He had it going tonight.” Anderson: “Everybody did a great job of finding me. The bigs were running (the floor) to kind of distract the defense (and draw attention).” Another fast-starting Hornets forward was Anthony Davis, who had 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks in just 15 minutes of action, before being sidelined with a sprained left ankle. Davis did not believe the injury is serious, saying after the game that he is “pretty sure” he will be able to play Wednesday in San Antonio. The Hornets practice Tuesday before heading to Texas. 

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Smith packed in a lot of activity into his 19 minutes of action, with eight points, seven rebounds and one block. Overall, the Hornets’ bench – which has played extremely well recently – outscored the Kings 45-28.

The buzz on… the halfway mark of the 2012-13 season. Over the next five games, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at the Hornets’ first half, beginning with point guard. After showing considerable improvement in 2011-12, his first season with the Hornets, Greivis Vasquez has made a quantum leap in ’12-13. Vasquez was viewed as a career NBA backup when he was drafted by Memphis in June 2010, but has made a case to be a long-term starter with his uptick in scoring and distributing. In the website SheridanHoops.com’s most recent update, Vasquez ranks third in the site’s Most Improved Player feature, behind only Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic. Vasquez has already won a Western Conference Player of the Week award and is third in the NBA in assists. He’s also become a much more accurate shooter from the perimeter, above league average in three-point percentage for the first time in his career. Vasquez’s backup, Brian Roberts, was a find after playing overseas following his college career at Dayton, though Roberts has tailed off lately in shooting percentage and minutes. During the 2012 offseason, the Hornets planned to develop Austin Rivers into a player who can shift over to point guard periodically; he’s played some there but will need more time to make the adjustment. Rivers hasn’t shot well but has shown a knack for penetrating and dishing to the open man.