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Wizards win without 'Novocaine' over Hornets

The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- This was about as ugly as an NBA game could be, but the Washington Wizards -- the team with the NBA's worst record -- didn't mind being just a little less ugly than the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night.

They'll just take the win -- any win, in fact.

In a shot-clock era, consider this an example of sun-dial basketball. Jordan Crawford broke open a tie game midway through the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and a driving layup and foul shot to lift the Wizards to their first road victory of the season, a 77-70 win over the Hornets.

Playing the point for the injured A.J. Price, Crawford scored 12 of his season-high 26 points in the fourth quarter and actually outscored the Hornets by two points in the period. In raising the NBA's worst record to 3-15, the Wizards overcame an abysmal 11-point first quarter of their own.

"That first quarter I thought I was getting my teeth pulled at the dentist without Novocaine," said Washington Coach Randy Wittman, smiling. "It was pretty painful."

"The first quarter was a mess for us," Wizards center Omeka Okafor said. "The rest of the three quarters we did our job."

The offensive ineptitude was so bad for both teams that it was difficult to assess whether it was simply decent defense or abysmal offensive production. Each team shot less than 33 percent from the floor -- the Wizards were 32.9 percent on 27-of-82 shooting and the Hornets shot 32.5 percent on 26-of-80 from the floor. The Wizards held the Hornets to 28 second-half points.

But the telling statistic for the Hornets was that although they held the Wizards to 28.2 percent shooting in the first half, they led by just 42-36 at halftime when Washington scored the final six points of the second quarter -- getting three each from Crawford and rookie Bradley Beal.

"That was huge mentally," Wittman said. "We were pretty fired up to be down six and to be shooting I don't know what. I didn't want to look at the halftime stats, so I didn't. We were pretty confident and feeling pretty good being down six and knowing that we hadn't really done anything offensively."

The Wizards had entered the game as the NBA's only winless team on the road, having lost their previous eight road games. The Hornets, who fell to 5-15 on the season, got Anthony Davis back in the lineup after the rookie forward had missed the previous 11 games with a stress reaction in his left ankle. Davis hit a driving layup and a free throw to draw the Hornets within 73-70 with 1:51 left, but Crawford hit a 20-footer to seal the game with 47.1 seconds left.

Ryan Anderson scored 17 points for the Hornets, but he was shut out in the second half. He missed four consecutive 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter, any one of which could have made a difference.

"I had some great looks," Anderson said. "Those are shots that I normally make, and I wouldn't turn them down again."

The Wizards erased a 10-point, third-quarter deficit with an 11-1 run in a 3:02 span of the quarter, with six points coming from Nene, to tie the game 56-56 with 1:27 left in the quarter.

Davis, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes, hit a rebound follow at the end of the quarter to put New Orleans up 60-56. But the Hornets scored just 10 points in the fourth quarter and had only 48 in the final three quarters after taking a 22-11 first-quarter lead.

The Hornets' starting guards -- Greivis Vasquez and Austin Rivers -- combined for 7 of 22 shooting, and reserve guards Brian Roberts and Roger Mason were just 3 of 10.

"We had no guard play at all," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "You end up in a situation where you are trying to make desperation plays at the end, and it shouldn't come down to that."

Crawford said he began to feel more comfortable running the offense as the game went along.

"I just wanted to do everything to get the win. I didn't care how many shots I shot or turnovers I made," Crawford said. "Once I saw what the team needed, I got comfortable."

He didn't even need Novocaine.

NOTES: Williams said the return of Davis, who averages 16.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, gives the Hornets some badly needed offensive options."He gives us length at the basket," Williams said. "His ability to read and react is something that we've missed, especially in that second unit. He complements all of our bigs, and he has the ability to shoot the ball, run the floor, dive in on the pick and roll, and pass."... Rivers returned to the starting lineup at shooting guard for New Orleans. ... Wittman said the rash on backcourt injuries --- John Wall has missed 18 games with an injured patella and A.J. Price broke his right hand last Saturday -- opens things up for Shaun Livingston and Crawford at the point. "We're a little short-handed, but opportunities present themselves, and they're more than capable of stepping up," Wittman said.

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