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Davis sparks Hornets to victory

The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- After sitting out two games with a mild concussion, New Orleans Hornets rookie forward Anthony Davis looked sluggish in missing five of his first six shots Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.

But then Bobcats forward Byron Mullens lit his fuse, and it was game over.

Davis used a first-half confrontation with Mullens to spur him to a career-high 23 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks and power the Hornets (3-2) to a 107-99 victory over the Bobcats.

Davis, who scored 18 points in the final 27 minutes, got tangled up with Mullens on a rebound with 2:58 left in the first half, and the two had to be separated at halfcourt. Mullens was called for a flagrant foul, and Davis picked up a technical.

The NBA's top draft pick seemed to perk up after the tussle, scoring on three consecutive possessions and then scoring the Hornets' first 11 points of the second half.

"That is the thing about Anthony that I saw in the preseason -- he's got a bit of an edge about him," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "He's the kind of kid you dream of coaching, and yet you are not going to push him around. He went on a tear, and that is big time for a guy that is 19 years old to be able to have that kind of moxie."

Davis said it was simply a case of keeping his cool and carefully analyzing how the referees were going to call the game after the flare-up.

"I knew the refs were going to watch the game closely, so I just wanted to take it to the basket," Davis said. "I knew they were going to call every foul, so I just kept attacking. If they fouled, I'd go to the line and earn two. If not, then I've got an open lane to the basket."

Ryan Anderson added a team-high 25 points, including five 3-pointers, and rookie guard Brian Roberts added 16 for the Hornets. The Bobcats (1-3) were paced by Ben Gordon's game-high 34 points.

Anderson said he saw the difference in Davis' focus after the confrontation with Mullens.

"I think he just needed a little bit to get going," Anderson said. "He's had a few games off, and I think that (confrontation) maybe was a little energy boost for him. He's a rhythm player, so when he scores, the ball always falls in the next time he shoots. He's definitely a player that feeds off of energy like that."

The Bobcats used a 9-2 run to start the third quarter to cut the New Orleans lead to 61-58, but Davis responded with nine straight to put the Hornets back up 70-58. Davis did it with a dunk off a no-look feed from Greivis Vasquez, two rebound follows and a drive down the lane on which he lost the handle but still managed to kiss the ball off the glass while being knocked to the floor.

Williams, whose team is noted for aggressive defense, said he was thrilled with the way his players responded to being challenged in the first half.

"It was good to see our guys rally around each other and then after that keep their poise and not allow that to linger any more than it should have," Williams said.

The offensive explosion was a tonic for the Hornets (3-2), who scored a franchise-low 62 points in a Wednesday night loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Hornets had more field goals at halftime (24) than they did in the entire game against the 76ers (23).

The Bobcats stayed within range due to Gordon's lights-out perimeter shooting.

"We figured out a couple of things on how to use (Gordon)," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "Our guys set some great double picks for Ben, and he was hard to guard tonight."

Notes: Williams said he knows Davis' energy and defense are solid, but he said Davis' offensive game is rounding into shape. "Offensively, he's just going to get better over time because he works at it," Williams said. "He's a diligent worker." ... After scoring a franchise-low 62 points in a loss Wednesday night to Philadelphia, the Hornets scored a season-high 35 in the second quarter against Charlotte, led by Anderson's 10 points. ... Gordon's 34 points were his highest output since scoring 45 at Denver last March. ... Center Bismack Biyombo started in place of Brendan Haywood (family emergency) for the Bobcats.
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