The Charlotte Hornets had multiple injured starters Sunday, and that made things too easy for Anthony Davis.
New Orleans Pelicans superstar Davis assembled a near-triple double with 36 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists in leading the Pelicans to a 119-109 victory over the Hornets at Spectrum Center. The Hornets played without their top center, Cody Zeller (sore ribs), who would have gotten the first turn guarding Davis. They also lost starting power forward Marvin Williams in the first half to a sprained right shoulder.
The Hornets (11-12) lost their second in a row, both at home. December is a key month in the Hornets’ playoff chances, as they play nine of 14 games at home.
The Hornets struggled at the 3-point line, making only 6-of-27 attempts from the arc in the first three quarters, when this game was decided. Star point guard Kemba Walker missed all six of his 3-point attempts, finishing with 13 point and five assists.
Four Hornets reserves reached 10 or more points, led by Frank Kaminsky with 19 points.
Three who mattered
Anthony Davis: He was arguably as good as any Hornets opponent this season so far.
Frank Kaminsky: He made Davis work defensively, particularly with spin moves at the rim.
Miles Bridges: Thrown into big minutes second half by injury and performed at both ends.
▪ Sunday was the first change in the Hornets’ starting lineup, 23 games into the season: Center Cody Zeller missed the game with sore ribs, which he suffered in the first half of Friday’s loss to the Utah Jazz. The Hornets had listed him as probable to play, but then made him inactive Sunday afternoon.
▪ With Zeller out, Hornet coach James Borrego started Willy Hernangomez at center. Hernangomez hadn’t been used in five of the Hornets previous six games after Frank Kaminsky replaced him as the backup center. That stretch started when Hernangomez missed a game with a sprained ankle.
▪ Zeller’s absence with injury represented the first change in the Hornets’ starting lineup this season. They had gone the first 22 games with the same five players.
▪ Wild sequence in the first quarter Sunday when Hornets guard Malik Monk stripped Davis of the ball, dribbled to the other end and threw a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges to set up a Bridges dunk.
▪ The Hornets lost another starter, Marvin Williams, to a right shoulder sprain in the first half.
▪ Walker suffered a right ankle sprain in the first quarter, but after treatment returned to the game.
▪ Walker was called for his third technical foul of the season late in the first half.
▪ Bridges started in place of Williams second half. Also, Borrego chose to start Bismack Biyombo at center second half.
They said it
“This was not about Billy losing the job to Frank. ... Billy has had a good season. We trust him, we believe in him.” – Hornets coach James Borrego, pre-game, on Hernangomez returning to the rotation with Zeller out.
“He can score in so many ways it can distort your defense.” – Borrego on Davis.
“He’s an unbelievable competitor going all the way back to college. He single-handedly willed UConn to a championship.” – Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry on Walker.
D OFFENSE: The 3-point shooting was awful when this game was decided, and everything deteriorated from there.
C- DEFENSE: The lack of big bodies was probably a factor, but they got obliterated by Davis.
C- COACHING: Borrego tried a zillion player combinations, but none got them back in the game in the second half.
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