Hornets edge Magic to snap 11-game skidBy Tim Povtak, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Wed, Dec 26, 2012 10:50 PM EST
ORLANDO -- New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams was happy his team broke an 11-game losing streak Wednesday night, but by the time he reached the team bus outside Amway Arena, he was focused more on how to start a winning streak. Playing well changed everything. Center Robin Lopez scored a season-high 29 points, and guard Greivis Vasquez added a career-high 27 points, leading the Hornets to a hard-fought, 97-94 victory over the Orlando Magic. "We won a game, and I'm happy about it, but my goal was not to win one game here and let up," Williams said. "My mind-set is to win every game. I might enjoy this one for about 15 minutes, but then it's getting ready for the next one. Our guys just said, 'Enough already.' This was about as physical as we've been for an entire 48 minutes." Lopez added, "We were going to scrap, hustle and get stops, but it's just one game. We want to string together a few of these." The Hornets (6-22) shot 50 percent from the field, but it was their defense that had Williams so optimistic. New Orleans held Orlando without a field goal through the final six minutes. Lopez had two of his three blocked shots in the final three minutes. The Hornets, the youngest team in the NBA and with two rookies in the starting lineup, won on the road for the first time since beating the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 26. "We talked about defense and playing our style of basketball for 48 minutes," Williams said. "It's something we haven't been able to do. I thought our defense showed some growth tonight. We'd like to be able to do that on the fly." The Magic (12-16) lost their third consecutive game. Point guard Jameer Nelson had a season-high 28 points and 10 assists, but he also committed a costly six turnovers, including three in the fourth quarter when the Magic struggled. Orlando hit just five of 24 shots in the fourth period while scoring just 18 points. Vasquez, the third-year pro from Venezuela, scored the last four points, including two free throws with 18.7 seconds remaining. The Magic took their last lead, 94-93, on two free throws by J.J. Redick with 1:34 remaining. Magic center Nikola Vucevic missed the potential tying 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left. Vucevic had 19 points and nine rebounds. Arron Afflalo had 14 points for Orlando, and Redick added 12. The Hornets led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter after getting back-to-back baskets from reserve Dominic McGuire. The Magic narrowed the deficit to two going into the fourth period. The Magic shot 62.2 percent from the field (23 of 37) in the first half and led 53-49 at the break. Vucevic had 14 points and Nelson 13 before intermission. Lopez was smoking early, making his first eight shots before he missed one late in the second quarter. He had 19 points by halftime. Hornets forward Ryan Anderson, in his first game back in Orlando since a sign-and-trade deal sent him to New Orleans this summer, had 15 points. New Orleans rookie Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, had 12 points and 11 rebounds. NOTES: Guard Eric Gordon, who led the Hornets in scoring last season, is expected to make his season debut Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats, Williams said. Gordon has been out with a sore right knee. "We want to make sure he is in the right frame of mind when he comes back, because he can change the way we play," Williams said. ... New Orleans rookie guard Austin Rivers was thrilled to be playing in front of his hometown crowd in Orlando, where he was such a high school star not too long ago. He finished with four points in 28 minutes. Although his first season has been up and down, he has impressed Williams. "He's one of those guys who wants it so badly," Williams said. "He can get frustrated because he's not Michael Jordan today. He's got some things you just can't teach. And he's tougher than I thought he would be." ... Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu missed his 27th consecutive game with that broken left hand, but he could return as early as this weekend. He has started practicing with the team again, going through all the drills. The only thing he hasn't done yet is full contact play. "He just needs some (more) practice. We haven't scrimmaged yet. He's gotta get hit in the hand (in practice)," Vaughn said. ... Anderson is on pace to break the NBA's single-season record for most 3-pointers (269), set by Ray Allen (2005-06 season). Anderson went into Wednesday's game with 88 3-pointers, which was seven more than Allen had after the same amount of games in his record-setting season. He went 1-for-5 from long distance against the Magic. ... The Hornets return to action at home against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. The Magic travel to Washington to play the Wizards on Friday.
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