As a rookie with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2010-11 season, Greivis Vasquez experienced some success against the San Antonio Spurs, going 3-1 in four regular-season meetings with Gregg Popovich's team and notching a first-round upset of the top-seeded Spurs in the playoffs. (Granted, guys like Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley had more to do with that than a rookie who averaged just over nine minutes per game in their nine meetings, but still.)
Since being traded to the New Orleans Hornets before last season, though, the Venezuelan point guard hasn't had quite so much luck — heading into Monday night's matchup, he'd yet to snag a W against the men in black in six tries since coming to Louisiana, including two losses earlier this season. So after the Hornets knocked off San Antonio, 95-88, on Monday night, Vasquez was pretty pumped to join Fox Sports New Orleans' postgame coverage:
The broad smile Vasquez flashed after he thanked his deity of choice for a "huge win" for his 9-25 Hornets apparently carried over from the day before, because he knew that this time he'd be running with the just-back-from-injury Eric Gordon, according to Darrell Williams of The Advocate:
New Orleans Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez couldn’t stop smiling after Sunday’s practice at the Alario Center.
Vasquez has seen the Hornets (8-25) lose many games like Saturday night’s at Dallas, close ones that came down to the end. However, the Hornets were able to win 99-96 on a three-point play by shooting guard Eric Gordon with 4.7 seconds to play in overtime. [...]
Both games [earlier this season] against San Antonio were close, but Vasquez noted the Hornets didn’t have Gordon, whose return is part of a fully healthy roster for the first time this season.
“We didn’t have a closer,” Vasquez said. “We have a closer now. Now it’s going to be a game. [...] there’ll be a payback (Monday).”
Vasquez's words proved to prophetic. After a Gary Neal jumper cut what had been an 11-point Hornets lead to just three points with 7:31 remaining in the game, Gordon took over, scoring six straight New Orleans points to stem the Spurs' run and get the game back under control; San Antonio wouldn't get within seven again.
All told, the much-maligned shooting guard went 4 for 6 from the floor for eight points in the fourth quarter, capping a game-high 24 points on 9 for 22 shooting in 32 1/2 minutes in his fourth game and second start after missing the first 30 games rehabilitating his injured right knee. His jumper's not right yet — he's shooting just 35.4 percent from the floor and 18.8 percent from distance at the moment — but he's on his way back, and starting to once again feel comfortable late in games again, as he told The Associated Press:
"That's one of the key things I do best when it comes to late-game situations or if anything gets tough," Gordon said. "I like to take guys one on one and I'm able to get a shot off and get a good shot. I look forward to that.
"I love those situations," he said.
Clearly, Vasquez — no slouch himself on Monday, scoring 14 points on 6 for 10 shooting, dishing 11 assists against three turnovers, grabbing three rebounds and snagging a pair of steals, as his breakout season continues — loves it, too.
Video via CBSSports.com's Matt Moore.