NEW ORLEANS — For all that Ryan Anderson did for the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday against Sacramento – his 3-pointers, his rebounds, his ability to get to the free-throw line – rookie Anthony Davis recalled something else the forward did.
Anderson’s two-handed rim-shaking put-back dunk late in the fourth quarter, a play made long after New Orleans had put away the Kings in a 110-95 win.
“I think we get more excited when Ryan dunks than when I dunk,” Davis said. “When Ryan got that dunk, everyone got crazy. We’re not used to seeing him dunking.”
With apologies to Davis, it was the assortment of Anderson’s ability, along with the energy of Roger Mason Jr. and Jason Smith that should have gotten “everyone crazy.”
The trio scored 29 points in the fourth quarter, pacing the Hornets to the slide-breaking win. In all, New Orleans’ bench outscored the Kings’ 45-17 and the Hornets’ shot 50.6 percent for the game.
“They hit some 3’s tonight but I thought our defense was a lot better in the second half,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “That’s who we have to be. We’re not a team that can put up 110 points every single night. We have to defend in order to have a chance.”
After three games in which the Hornets found ways to lose in the fourth quarter, Sunday must have been a breath of fresh air for those wearing New Orleans’ white-and-blue pinstriped uniforms.
It nearly didn’t appear like that would be the case.
Behind John Salmons’ 15 third-quarter points on five 3-pointers, the Kings stuck around, closing down New Orleans’ lead to 75-73. Two Greivis Vasquez shots and a Smith steal pushed the Hornets’ lead back to six.
Still, as late as 8:04 to play, New Orleans led only by five points. Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas scored five consecutive points, his 25-foot 3-pointer cutting the Hornets down to an 88-83 advantage.
And then Anderson, Mason and Smith took over, helping the Hornets score 12 of the next 14 points in the game.Mason hit a free-throw after a 3-second technical on the Kings, Anderson hit a layup and the and-1, Smith sank a 16-footer and Mason hit a 21-footer. Thomas’ six-foot running jumper ended the Hornets’ run but it was too late.
“I thought we did a great job and then it fell apart…,” Kings coach Keith Smart said of the final 5½ minutes. “Then we gave up the big 3’s. That’s something that we could not do. You couldn’t give up those 3’s at that point in the game.”
New Orleans outscored the Kings 62-44 in the paint thanks to a bevy of monster dunks by Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu. Davis finished with a game-high 20 points and eight rebounds, running the floor to take advantage of his quickness and athleticism against other power forwards and centers.
“I had to be aggressive,” Davis said. “I had to stop settling for jump shots and start attacking the basket. When we do that, we are a hard team to beat.”
The win ended a three-game losing streak for New Orleans, who will go for a second win in a row on Tuesday night when it closes out a home stand against Brooklyn.