Hornets.com postgame: Wizards 77, Hornets 70

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Wizards (3-15), Hornets (5-15)

It was over when… the Hornets were whistled for a five-second inbound violation with 29 seconds remaining, trailing 76-70. It was the punctuation mark on a frustrating second half in which New Orleans scored just 28 points and couldn’t hang on to a lead that had grown to as many as 13 points prior to intermission. Jordan Crawford stepped to the line for Washington and drained a free throw on the subsequent possession, making it a three-possession game at 77-70. The Wizards won for the first time on the road this season, the last NBA team to break through for a victory away from home.

Hornets MVP: Ryan Anderson received the in-arena award, but that was based on his 17-point first half. Let’s go with Austin Rivers, who has made progress over the past week, playing more efficiently on offense with fewer mistakes. The 10th overall pick finished 5-for-8 from the field with 11 points, including nine in the opening half, one factor in New Orleans’ 42-36 intermission advantage. On Friday vs. Memphis, he had 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting, so arguably his two best games to date have come in the past handful of days. The one blemish on Tuesday for the 20-year-old was his 1-for-4 foul shooting, an area in which he has dipped recently.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: It’s a testament to Anthony Davis’ obvious ability that he hadn’t played in 3 ½ weeks, was limited to just 25 minutes of playing time (partly due to foul trouble) and readjusted to a new role coming off the bench, yet still had 13 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals. The all-around performance was badly needed by New Orleans, which turned in one of the best defensive performances of 2012-13 with the No. 1 pick back in the fold.

The buzz on… a new starting lineup. After moving Roger Mason into the first unit during the late-November road trip, Monty Williams opted to return Austin Rivers to the starting mix at shooting guard. After a two-game hiatus for Al-Farouq Aminu, Williams also shifted Aminu back to the first string. Williams indicated that part of his decision-making was based on the fact that the starting group that began the regular season – which included Rivers – was responsible for the team’s best run of success (including a 3-2 start). Rivers responded with one of his best games as a pro, while it was a mixed bag for Aminu, who showed aggressiveness at times but didn’t always get the results (2-for-8, 6 points, 6 rebounds) or the right bounce or whistle. Mason scored five points in 17 minutes, while previous starting small forward Xavier Henry received a DNP but is again battling injury and is not 100 percent physically, according to Williams.