NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis’ past few games haven’t gone quite like the rookie wanted, shooting just 20 percent in the three games prior to Wednesday night.
Against Portland, he decided to get aggressive early.
The former No. 1 overall pick scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, helping the Hornets pick up their biggest win of the season, a 99-63 victory over the Trail Blazers.
And now New Orleans (19-34) goes into the All-Star break winners of four of its past five games and with a winning record since Christmas.
“When you get that first bucket, your confidence just rises,” Davis said. “So when I got that first bucket, I just had all the confidence in the world and stayed aggressive.”
The Hornets held Portland (25-28) to just 32.4 percent shooting, outscored the Trail Blazers in the paint by 26 and won the rebounding battle by 17. Portland was only 2 of 17 from 3-point range.
Additionally, the Hornets turned 17 Portland turnovers into 20 points while giving the ball away only seven times, a season low. Portland’s 26 first-half points, 63 total points and 32.4 percent shooting all were season lows for New Orleans opponents.
Defense, in other words, was the key to victory for Monty Williams’ charges.
“We got our butts kicked,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “We didn’t play well and they were prepared for us and obviously we didn’t play a very good game. Defense kind of kept us in it for the first half. We couldn’t get anything going offensively and it was a long night.”
Portland struck first, scoring on its first possession for a 2-0 lead. That was the last time New Orleans trailed. Greivis Vasquez, who finished with 10 points and eight assists, scored on a driving layup to tie the game.
After it was tied again at 4, the Hornets took over, slowly growing their lead to five by the end of the first quarter and 12 by halftime.
Since Dec. 26, the Hornets have gone 14-12 and head into the break as one of the hotter teams in the NBA.
“I really don’t want to go on the break,” Vasquez said. “We are playing well. I’d like to just keep going. We are playing Hornets basketball right now and we are making progress and we are continuing to play hard.”