NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Baron Davis came to terms with the limitations caused by his ailing left knee, adapted his game and thrived beyond his own expectations.
“But this is the playoffs—there’s no time for off-nights,” Davis said after practice Sunday.
It will now be up to Philadelphia to adapt if the Sixers want to return home in command of the series, which they lead 2-1 heading into Monday night’s Game 4 in New Orleans.
Sixers coach Larry Brown said his team simply failed to match the energy and hustle of the Hornets, who seemed to feed off of Davis’ courage and the intensity of the home crowd.
Brown’s main concern was an apparent letdown in the fourth quarter, when New Orleans broke the game open. Philadelphia committed untimely turnovers, allowed the Hornets too many second-chance points and failed to work the ball inside on offense.
“Hopefully we’ll be more focused on not allowing that to happen,” Brown said. “We took too many jump shots.”
Philadelphia also seemed deflated by the way they were dominated on the boards on both ends of the floor, losing the rebounding battle 51-33 and giving up 21 offensive rebounds.
“Definitely, we can’t leave it all to the big men; the guards have to get rebounds, too. They need our help,” Snow said. “We’re a good rebounding team when our guards rebound.”
The Hornets likely will be without All-Star Jamal Mashburn (chipped bone in his right hand) as they were Saturday night. Davis’ knee was swollen after Game 3, but not badly enough to keep him from shooting around Sunday, and he has every intention of repeating his Game 3 performance.
“The adrenaline gets pumping and you just got to forget about it and play. And that’s what I kept telling myself before the game, because my knee would sometimes buckle or lock up, and I just had to fight through it,” he said.
Davis was able to score or assist on the drive, but he never attempted a dunk or soaring layup as he often would when healthy.
“I’m getting to the hole, but I’ve got to shoot the ball high off the backboard because I can’t get up over the rim,” he said.
The Hornets also have been pleased with the strong performances they’ve gotten off the bench. In Game 2, Robert Pack had solid minutes guarding Allen Iverson. In addition to showing the quickness and strength to make Iverson work harder for his points, Pack scored 15 himself, making Iverson work on defense.
In Game 3, Jerome Moiso, who had never seen playoff action in his prior two seasons, grabbed seven rebounds in 16 minutes and scored 10 points—all in the fourth quarter.
“For us to move on we need a good effort like that from him or somebody else off the bench,” said Hornets forward P.J. Brown, who after poor showings in the first two games had 17 points and 12 rebounds Saturday night. “That’s what the playoffs is all about—the unknowns, the guys who kind of come out of the blue. Whoever they are, we just need contributions from everybody.”
While Brown, Davis and center Jamaal Magloire provided the foundation of the Hornets’ Game 3 victory, Moiso became a decisive factor down the stretch.
Moiso, who was briefly 76ers’ property before being sent to the Hornets in the trade involving Derrick Coleman before last season, got loose underneath the basket for a pair of tip-ins while the score was still close. He then grabbed an offensive rebound and rose back up for an authoritative one-handed jam.
“The first two games, it was kind of hard to just sit and watch, especially against Philly,” Moiso said. “I really have something to prove against Philly. So that was kind of exciting, to be able to give a spark to the team.”
Moiso averaged four points and 3.5 rebounds a game during the regular season. Silas wouldn’t guarantee more of a role for him for the rest of the series.
“He hasn’t played a whole lot of NBA basketball. The athlete is there and the mind seems to be coming around. When the mind and body link up, you’re going to have a hell of a player,” Silas said. “As long as he produces he’ll play.”