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Injuries Are Taking Their Toll on New Orleans Hornets

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COMMENTARY | For a brief moment in the first half of the New Orleans Hornets game vs. the Miami Heat on March 29, it looked more like the Washington Generals were trying to stop the Harlem Globetrotters. At 25-47, the Hornets figured to be no match for the Heat, especially with starting PG Greivis Vasquez out with an injured ankle. In fact, the Hornets have been stung by the injury bug throughout the 2012-13 season.

Take a closer look at how injuries have devastated the New Orleans Hornets this season.

Greivis Vasquez (sprained ankle)

When Greivis Vasquez sat out the Hornets game vs. the Denver Nuggets on March 25, it was the first game that he missed in two seasons in New Orleans. Vasquez tried to play on his injured left ankle two days later vs. the Los Angeles Clippers, but he was ineffective and was held scoreless. Against the Heat, Brian Roberts couldn't replicate the magic he had in Vasquez's absence earlier this week when the Hornets ended the Nuggets' streak.

Austin Rivers (broken hand)

The tragedy of Austin Rivers' potentially season-ending injury is that the Hornets' rookie was just beginning to play quality NBA basketball. Rivers was showing himself to be one of New Orleans' best defending guards and his plus-minus stat was improving tremendously. With Vasquez's injury and Eric Gordon's inability to play in the second games of back-to-backs, New Orleans will play out the stretch very thin at guard.

Jason Smith (torn labrum)

Jason Smith probably earned a lifetime "Get Out of Doghouse Free" card by playing much of the season with a torn labrum. At some point, it became obvious that Smith was laboring through his injury for the Hornets and with New Orleans obviously not in position to make a playoff run, the team finally shut him down. Since then, New Orleans has missed Smith's athleticism and spark off the bench and the Hornets eventually signed Lou Amundson.

Anthony Davis (concussion, stress reaction in ankle, sprained shoulder)

Early in his rookie season, it looked like Anthony Davis might miss significant time due to injuries. The concussion came on friendly fire from teammate Austin Rivers. Later, Davis suffered an injured shoulder after battling New Jersey Nets C Brook Lopez for a rebound. The most serious injury was a stress reaction in his ankle. Fortunately, Davis has recovered quickly from these injuries and has missed only 15 games this season for New Orleans.

Eric Gordon (knee, sprained hand, ankle)

The sorest knee in NBA history continued to plague Eric Gordon early in the season. The Hornets shut down their injured guard to rehab his knee in Los Angeles. Upon returning, team doctors forbade Gordon from playing in the second games of back-to-back contests for the rest of the season. Gordon has also missed one game each with a sprained hand and a sore ankle. In two seasons, Gordon has only played in 42 games for New Orleans.

Clearly, the Hornets are not the only NBA team licking their wounds at this time of year. But as a young team with little experienced depth, New Orleans' injuries are having a greater relative impact than those afflicting other teams. On the bright side, the Hornets should land another top draft pick when the ping-pong balls come out of the hopper this year.

Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.

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