Hornets Fall To Spurs In Opener, Show Great Promise
The New Orleans Hornets led the San Antonio Spurs with less than a minute in regulation, but couldn't keep a late lead, falling in their season-opener by the score of 99-95. Despite the defeat, the young Hornets showed plenty of great promise.
Rookie star Anthony Davis (pictured left) did not disappoint in his debut, going 6-12 from the field and finishing a perfect 9-9 at the charity strip, leading New Orleans in scoring with 21. The 19 year-old with the trademark unibrow also pulled down 7 boards, blocked a shot, and reeled in a steal.
"I'm just trying to play the game. Go out there and explore. If I don't have shots, look for my teammates. And they were doing a great job of finding me in my sweet spots," explained Davis. "All the credit goes to them really."
A few of his teammates had terrific games, including Al-Farouq Aminu. The third year small forward out of Wake Forest had the best game of his professional career. 17 points, 7 boards, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals, and a few monster alley-oop dunks had the Hive up and screaming on Halloween.
A season ago, a big weakness for the Hornets was their bench. Wednesday, they scored 34. Jason Smith scored 12 on 5 of 6 shooting, using his pick-and-pop skills from the top of the key. His energy was infectious. Ryan Anderson had a rough night from the field, going 1 for 5 from beyond the arc. Despite that, he still scored 11 and finished with 5 rebounds.
Another rookie started for the Hornets. Austin Rivers (pictured left) struggled from the field, making only 1 shot (an uncontested layup) in 9 attempts. However, his ability to penetrate and drive to the hole earned him several trips to the free throw line. Austin was knocked to the floor more than once, but quickly popped up each time. 7 points and 2 assists isn't a good stat line, but the 20 year-old rookie from Duke displayed his impressive skill set. He also feels he learned a lot in his NBA debut.
"I was thinking too much. The second half, I just played," said Rivers. "It was my first game. Now I know what to do and what not to do. That won't happen again."
New Orleans point guard Greivis Vasquez did exactly what coach Monty Williams wanted him to...distribute the ball and limit the turnovers. Vasquez had a game-high 13 assists and only 2 turnovers. 9 of his 13 dimes came in the first half when the Hornets lead reached double-digits.
Despite all the positives, the second to youngest team in the league lost to one of the oldest. Tim Duncan had a vintage performance. 24 points and 11 rebounds only tell part of the story. His superstar teammate Tony Parker was just as good. Tony's 3 in the final minute gave San Antonio a lead they would not relinquish.
New Orleans will host one more on Friday before making their first road trip. Next up, the team that played in the Crescent City before the Hornets. Tip-off versus the Utah Jazz is set for 7:00.