After Eric Gordon got hurt and the New Orleans Hornets began struggling, head coach Monty Williams emptied his bench and gave everyone a chance to play. Some players took advantage and some didn't. One of the Hornets who made the most of his opportunity was Gustavo Ayon.
The center from Mexico came out of nowhere to be one of the Hornets' most pleasant surprises of 2011-12. However, New Orleans will send Ayon to the Orlando Magic for Ryan Anderson in a sign-and-trade. Take a look back at Gustavo Ayon's top five games with the New Orleans Hornets.
5. 4/24/2012: Hornets defeat Golden State Warriors 83-81
Gustavo Ayon's final game with New Orleans was one of his finest. New Orleans really needed a superior effort on this night as Monty Williams chose to rest Eric Gordon. Ayon gave a great all-around performance, scoring 13 points, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out four assists and blocking four shots.
4. 2/22/2012: Hornets defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 89-84
With Emeka Okafor and Jason Smith out with injuries, Gustavo Ayon's minutes increased significantly. Not surprisingly, New Orleans won four of six during mid-February with Ayon in the starting lineup. In a win over the Cavaliers, Gustavo Ayon pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds.
3. 2/15/2012: Hornets defeat Milwaukee Bucks 92-89
Another win during this stretch for New Orleans came on the road against the Bucks. Gustavo Ayon got his fifth start of the year as New Orleans won its second game in a row. Ayon recorded 12 points and 12 rebounds which was the first double-double of his NBA career.
2. 2/17/2012: Hornets defeat New York Knicks 89-85
I watched every Hornets game in 2011-12 and for me, the win over the Knicks in Madison Square Garden at the height of Linsanity was the most memorable game of the year. For the second night in a row, Gustavo Ayon notched a double-double for New Orleans with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
1. 3/15/2012: Washington Wizards defeat Hornets 99-89
I'm not sure how the Hornets lost to the Wizards in New Orleans, but it certainly wasn't Gustavo Ayon's fault. With 16 points, Ayon tied a career-high in scoring for the Hornets. He also fell one rebound short of another double-double. Gustavo Ayon had an assist, a blocked shot and was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. A loyal New Orleans NBA fan, Patrick was a diehard New Orleans Jazz fan and now cheers for the Hornets. Patrick was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
"Gustavo Ayon 2011-12 Game Log," basketball-reference.com
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