The New Orleans Hornets wanted to get off to a strong start after the All-Star break.
They did just that Tuesday, and they will look to continue their push up the Eastern Conference standings when they host the Washington Wizards.
New Orleans is currently fourth in the East, but All-Star guard Baron Davis thinks the Hornets can be much better than that.
“We’re better than what our record shows,” Davis said. “With me and (Jamal Mashburn) healthy, we’re going to be a team to reckoned with in the East.”
Mashburn had 20 points Tuesday, and Davis had 19 points and eight assists to lead the Hornets to an 89-75 win over the East-leading Indiana Pacers. Coach Tim Floyd wanted the Hornets to play a physically aggressive game, and they took his words to heart, outrebounding the Pacers 56-38.
“We wanted to come out and be aggressive on both ends of the floor,” said forward Robert Traylor, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. “This is the time when things get really going. For us, we really need to come out and make a statement. Tonight was a big night for us.”
With Davis finding seams in the Pacers’ defense and the Hornets holding a 20-12 edge on the offensive glass, New Orleans found itself with a number of high-percentage shots.
“That was the key to this victory—those easy buckets we were getting,” Davis said.
The Wizards have dropped two straight and four of six, including a 107-81 loss to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
Reserve forward Etan Thomas scored 13 points to lead the Wizards, who trailed by 12 after the first quarter and were never able to get back into the game.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. “Our bench played well and our starters didn’t. We didn’t get any leadership from our veterans. It was a very poor performance from our starters.”
Washington’s starters finished 15-of-43 from the field.