Forward comes off bench, scores 27 to pace Hornets
NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams had insisted there was nothing wrong with Ryan Anderson.
And Anderson, who had been shooting 31 percent in his past five games, echoed his coach’s words with his performance.
With Anderson breaking loose early, the Hornets built a commanding lead in shooting past the Sacramento Kings 114-105 on Monday at New Orleans Arena.
The victory was not without cost, however, as rookie power forward Anthony Davis sprained his left ankle in the second quarter and did not return.
Anderson, a Sacramento native, scored 27 points, shooting 7-of-14 on 3-point attempts. He had 17 points during a 34-point second quarter as the Hornets rolled to a 25-point halftime lead in their best first half of the season.
His performance keyed 48.3 percent 3-point shooting (12-of-25) by the Hornets and 45 points by their bench. The Hornets also grabbed 20 offensive rebounds in outrebounding the Kings 49-36.
“(Point guard) Greivis (Vasquez) and the guards did a good job of finding me, and the bigs did a good job of running to kind of distract the defense a little bit. And we did a great job of guarding in that quarter, so it really opened up our shots and got me some open looks,” Anderson said.
The victory was the seventh in nine games for New Orleans (14-27), which was coming off a disappointing loss Saturday to Golden State in which its defense had been shredded.
Davis said after the game that he tweaked the ankle earlier in the quarter, but with treatment, he expects to play Wednesday at San Antonio.
Sacramento (16-26) came in having won three of four games, but started slowly with an early start on a day in which news broke that a deal had been reached to sell the Kings to a group of Seattle investors.
Perhaps helped by Davis being out of the lineup, the Kings showed much more fight in the second half, going on a 23-4 run during a five-minute period in the third quarter to get back in the game. They scored 22 of their 60 points in the paint in the third quarter.
However, after Sacramento closed the gap to 91-81 early in the fourth quarter on a steal by Tyreke Evans and a lob to Travis Outlaw for a dunk, Anderson was there to stem the tide. He sank 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions around a jumper by Outlaw, and New Orleans led 97-83 the 8:44 mark.
The Hornets led 106-97 with 2:57 showing when Eric Gordon hit an off-balance jumper against contact with 2:57 left. Vasquez came back with 50 seconds left with a 27-foot 3-pointer that sealed the deal.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who had 29 points and 13 rebounds, said Anderson’s second helping was the key, but Vasquez was the unsung hero.
“(Anderson) changed the game for them, and we were playing catchup the whole time,” said Cousins, who scored 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the third quarter. “Vasquez played great. He ran the team well and got in the cracks (of the Kings’ defense).”
Vasquez finished with 19 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. Gordon scored 16 points; and Al-Farouq Aminu, in another strong performance, had 14 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and a steal. Davis had 11 points and six rebounds.
Packing the lane to prevent Cousins from being effective on the low block, the Hornets had the Kings shooting from the perimeter — and missing.
Meanwhile, Anderson got hot, microwave quick. He sank his first 3-pointer at 9:38 of the quarter for a 37-24 lead. His third 3-pointer, at 5:19, made it 47-32.
He followed with one two minutes later for a 55-36 lead. By the end of the quarter, the Hornets led 64-39, and Anderson was 5-of-8 on 3-pointers in the second quarter alone.
The Hornets got off to a great start, leading 30-18 when the first quarter ended.
“After what happened against Golden State, we just wanted to come out strong on the defense from the start,” Aminu said. “That’s what we talked about.”