By Darrell Williams
Special to The Advocate
October 27, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - Rookie power forward Anthony Davis showed a glimpse of what he's capable in the Hornets' preseason home opener Tuesday night.
Not that he didn't have help. Newly acquired center Robin Lopez formed a dynamic duo with Davis underneath the basket, as the Hornets took advantage of the Charlotte Bobcats in a 97-82 dominating victory at the New Orleans Arena.
Davis had 22 points and nine rebounds, and Lopez had 18 points and 13 rebounds against Charlotte (1-1), an opponent noticeably lacking beneath the basket. By the end of the third quarter, which ended with the Hornets (2-0) leading 74-65, New Orleans had scored 46 points in the lane.
"We had some matchup advantages underneath, and we did some switches and took advantage of them," said Davis, the overall first pick in this year's NBA draft. "For me, it was just a matter of being comfortable. Basketball is supposed to be fun."
Davis' performance caused coach Monty Williams, not usually effusive with praise, to compare him to San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan.
"He reminds me so much like Tim ... he's so selfless," Williams said. "It was good to see him contribute the way he did."
Lopez helped get the fun started early. Unlike their first preseason game, the Hornets got off to a fast start. Lopez set the tone with his aggressiveness underneath. In fact, the Hornets were much more aggressive this time from the start after two days of working to correct the ills from Sunday's victory against the Orlando Magic in Mexico City.
The mprovement was immediately evident. New Orleans shed the "tuxedos" Williams said they seemed to be wearing at the start of Sunday's game and clearly had donned hard hats against the Bobcats.
Defensively, the were noticeably more active, especially at the rim. They were more physical overall, attempting to take the ball to the ball to the basket. Lopez, not known for his scoring, had 11 points.
They pushed the ball, with one fast-break alley-oop from point guard Greivis Vasquez to Davis, wowing the crowd. Davis also had a gorgeous baseline hook that gave New Orleans a 27-18 lead with about 3 ½ minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Hornets led 35-28 at the end of the quarter.
The second team started the second quarter and looked out of sync. Charlotte, led by undersized by potent guards Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon, led a comeback that overtook the Hornets, taking a 57-46 halftime lead.
No matter, order was restored at the start of the third quarter with the starting five of Davis, Lopez, Vasquez, rookie first-round pick Austin Rivers and second-year Hornet Al-Farouq Aminu.
Davis was particularly impressive, putting on a clinic of dunks off pick-and-roll plays and from the baseline off drives by Vasquez. Davis scored 15 points in the quarter, ending the third with 22, and also had five rebounds.
Lopez was happy the Hornets asserted themselves, defensively in particular.
"I know that my teammates have my back on drives, and I know players are going to attach the basket," Lopez said. "I'm here to make it difficult for them to score."
Vasquez also came back strongly from the opening game, in which he had six assists but also five turnovers, orchestrating the offense like the team's most-experienced point guard.
The second team even redeemed itself when it returned late in the game, with Ryan Anderson and rookie Darius Miller sinking 3-pointers off passes from point guard Brian Roberts, one of the stars of the first-game victory.