Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 91, Grizzlies 83
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Hornets (15-29), Grizzlies (28-15)
It was over when… Greivis Vasquez drove in for a right-handed layup and drew the foul, converting a conventional three-point play for an 89-78 lead with 1:44 remaining in Memphis. It was a rare kind bounce on the rim for Vasquez, who had an uncharacteristic 2-for-16 game that included multiple close-range misses. Regardless, despite struggles from several key players offensively, the Hornets posted one of their best victories of 2012-13, outscoring the Grizzlies 27-15 in the fourth quarter. Memphis had led 68-64 entering the final stanza. Coming off a disappointing home loss Friday vs. Houston, New Orleans bounced back by starting its five-game Super Bowl week road trip in outstanding fashion. The Hornets head to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Tuesday, in NBA TV’s “Fan Night” national broadcast.
Hornets MVP: Ryan Anderson found a shooting groove and was unconscious from three-point range at various stages of Sunday’s game, capped by three critical treys in the fourth quarter. Anderson finished 7-for-13 from long distance, one shy of his career best of eight makes from beyond the arc. The supersub totaled a team-best 22 points. “We did a great job of moving the ball and getting into the flow of the offense,” Anderson credited. “But mostly it was our defense that won the game tonight. The guys did a great job of drawing the defense and got me wide open. We played great. We really moved the ball and took advantage of our mismatches.”
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Arguably Jason Smith’s best game of 2012-13, the forward/center had 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 27 minutes of playing time. Smith went 5-for-7 from the field and 6-for-8 on free throws. Most importantly, he tallied half of those 16 points in the fourth quarter, tipping in a miss and draining a pair of spot-up jumpers. Smith notched 13 of New Orleans’ 48 second-half points.
The buzz on… power forward. No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis caught a par of bad breaks early in his rookie season when he sustained two separate injuries, causing him to miss a total of 13 games. The Hornets went just 3-10 in those contests, obvious evidence of Davis’ importance to the club. The 2012 NCAA champion has provided numerous glimpses of the upside and long-term potential that made him the unquestioned top prospect in the nation. But he’s already developed into a solid pro, ranking near the top of the NBA in player efficiency since Day 1. The 19-year-old has scored most of his points on dives to the rim, putbacks and alley oops, meaning his low-post, back-to-the-basket game will be a major priority to work on this summer. Off the bench, Anderson is a candidate for NBA Sixth Man of the Year, a season after Anderson was named the league’s Most Improved Player. Anderson leads the NBA in three-point makes and was scorching-hot during a stretch in November when the then-shorthanded Hornets badly needed scoring anywhere they could find it. Overall, Anderson was praised as one of the best acquisitions of the offseason around the league. If anything, Anderson has exceeded expectations. Watching him play night in and night out, he’s provided a truer picture of his unique inside-outside ability of being able to regularly drain threes, while also grabbing tough rebounds in the paint. Other than Davis and Anderson, the balance of the minutes at power forward have gone to Lance Thomas and Smith, though the latter is utilized more commonly as a center behind Robin Lopez.