Hornets End Nuggets Winning Streak With Dominating Victory
When the New Orleans Hornets (25-46) listed starting point guard Greivis Vasquez (ankle) and starting shooting guard Eric Gordon (ankle) OUT for Monday night's game against the Denver Nuggets, many fans were expecting a lopsided game. After all, the Nuggets were riding a 15 game winning streak. Fans got a blowout...and luckily for the ones in attendance at New Orleans Arena, it was the Hornets dominating the Nuggets 110-86 in their most impressive victory of the season.
Rookies Brian Roberts and Darius Miller started in place of Vasquez and Gordon, and both players had career nights. Roberts, who generally is a scorer off the bench, distributed the ball to anyone wearing a Hornets uniform. He finished with 13 points and a career-high 18 assists (also a team-high this season), and only 3 turnovers.
"We knew we had some guys out, but with the group we had, we just wanted to come out and fight," said a smiling Roberts after the win. "Guys played extremely hard. I think that's what got us the win."
Most importantly, Roberts (pictured) controlled the tempo all 41 minutes he was on the floor. When playing the Nuggets, the league leader in fast break points, it's imperative to control the tempo. Thanks to Roberts, New Orleans was able to.
"The little kid (Roberts) played great," said Nuggets coach George Karl. "He passed the ball as well as anyone has passed against us in a long time. He picked us apart. They played with confidence and a defensive intensity we haven't seen in awhile."
The little kid? As a 26-year old rookie, Brian Roberts does have a baby face, and apparently still can't get Denver to remember his name. Oh well.
Miller's defense and shooting were outstanding. He made 6 of his 7 attempts from the field, going 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, finishing with a career-high 16 points.
"I think we really shared the ball tonight," said Miller (pictured). "We just tried to outplay them and play hard. We came out and hit first today. That was the difference."
In addition to Roberts and Miller, 5 other Hornets joined the rookie duo in double-figures, including fellow rookie Anthony Davis.
Davis, a strong candidate for March's NBA rookie of the month award, finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block. Al-Farouq Aminu had 3 blocks to go with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Robin Lopez had 3 blocks as well, in addition to 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Ryan Anderson led all Hornet scorers with 23 points off the bench, including 5 three-pointers. He pulled down 9 boards. Roger Mason Jr. also shot well off the pine, scoring 14 on 4-5 shooting from 3-point range. New Orleans made 14-25 three-point attempts.
"They made the 3 ball at a high level," explained Karl. "Anytime we tried to fight hard and get back in the game, Mason hit a couple of 3s."
Without question, it all added up to the most impressive win of the season for New Orleans.
"We wanted to play a total 48 minutes, and we did that," explained Mason. "Defensively we were unselfish. Offensively we were unselfish as well. I'm really proud of this team for the way we played today. We've got to keep it going."
The Hornets will try to extend their 3-game winning streak (all against playoff teams) on Wednesday against Chris Paul and the playoff bound Los Angeles Clippers. Tip-off from the Hive is set for 7:00. Then on Friday, New Orleans will try to break another streak as the Miami Heat (current owners of a 27 game winning streak) will be in town.