Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
In Ryan Anderson’s first game back at Amway Center since being traded by the Orlando Magic before the season, it would not come as a shock if he did his usual damage behind the three-point line and on the offensive glass. Magic fans had grown accustomed to seeing that from Anderson over the years.
It would not come as a shock, either, if Anthony Davis — the New Orleans Hornets rookie and top overall draft pick — stuffed the stat sheet.
Davis and Anderson are the Hornets’ two best players and even though New Orleans came into tonight’s game with an 11-game losing streak, it wouldn’t have been unheard of for Davis and Anderson help snap a long losing skid against the Magic.
Instead, it was two unsung heroes for the Hornets that led the way — Robin Lopez and Greivis Vasquez.
Lopez is sneaky good and he showed off his skills against Orlando. Matched up primarily against Nikola Vucevic, Lopez got off to a scorching hot start, making all six of his field goal attempts and scoring 14 points in the first quarter. Lopez finished with 29 points on 12 shots.
Lopez scored on righty and lefty hooks, as well as midrange jumpers, and there was nothing Vucevic could do to slow him down. It’s rare to see Vucevic outclassed defensively, but that’s precisely what happened against Lopez.
As for Vasquez, he had a career-night, finishing with 27 points, eight assists, and six rebounds.
In a game where Jameer Nelson turned back the clock and delivered a vintage performance, Vasquez kept pace with him. Vasquez did most of his damage on offense in pick-and-rolls. All night long, the Magic had major trouble containing dribble penetration, which allowed Vasquez to pick apart Orlando’s defense with midrange jumpers, layups, and floaters.
So even though Davis and Anderson had pedestrian games for their standards, Lopez and Vasquez were able to pick up the slack and New Orleans came away with a surprising victory.
For the Magic, that’s rather unfortunate because Nelson’s best game of the season was wasted. Nelson, just like Vasquez did to Orlando defensively, flummoxed the Hornet’s defense with his pick-and-roll craftsmanship. Nelson was equally aggressive in taking the pull-up jumper as he was attacking the rim. Unfortunately for Nelson, it wasn’t enough.
Aside from Nelson, no one else for the Magic played marginally well. As a result, Orlando lost a very winnable game.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
There were several standout performances. Lopez had 29 points on 12 shots to go along with three blocks. Vasquez finished with a career-high 27 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. Nelson put up 28 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds.
Vucevic missed a game-tying three-pointer from the right corner with 2.9 seconds left, after J.J. Redick couldn’t get a clean look beyond the arc, and the Hornets were able to escape with a 97-94 win over the Magic.
That Was … a Relief
It must come as a huge relief to New Orleans that they were able to snap their 11-game losing streak by finding a way to win a close game after coming up short in previous games.