Anderson's late heroics lift Hornets past Blazers

Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- Ryan Anderson, the New Orleans Hornets' 3-point specialist, made a long-range jumper with 15.6 seconds left and then converted a shovel pass in the lane from Greivis Vasquez into a tough layup and foul shot with 1.8 seconds remaining to lift the Hornets to a 98-96 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday at the New Orleans Arena.
But as attention-grabbing as Anderson's offensive heroics were, the man of the hour for the Hornets once again was rookie forward Anthony Davis, whose offensive rebound preceding Anderson's 3-pointer and swooping defensive effort to affect a game-winning attempt by Wesley Matthews were the two biggest plays of the game.
Davis, who scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, skied high to rebound a driving miss by Vasquez with 18 seconds left. When it looked as though his momentum might carry him out of bounds, Davis fired a deep pass out to the top of the key to Brian Roberts, who found Anderson alone on the right wing for the 3-pointer that temporarily put the Hornets up 95-93.
"That was huge," Vasquez said of Anderson's rebound. "That was the game right there. He won the game."
Portland coach Terry Stotts said Davis beat LaMarcus Aldridge to the ball because Aldridge mistimed his jump.
"The ball was coming right to him," Stotts said. "That was a big rebound because it was under 24 seconds, and they were probably going to foul. If we come up with that rebound, it's a different game."
The Blazers were far from buried. Portland rookie Damian Lillard came down on the other end to nail a 3-pointer of his own from the left wing with 11.2 seconds left, giving Portland a 96-95 lead.
The Hornets called timeout to inbound the ball from halfcourt. Vasquez got the inbounds pass at the top of the key and dribbled in against Nicolas Batum. As he entered the left side of the lane, Vasquez drew three men and slipped a bounce pass down low to Anderson, who hit a short layup despite being fouled by Jared Jeffries.
Anderson's basket and subsequent foul shot gave New Orleans a 98-96 lead.
"Those were two wide-open shots," said Anderson, who led the Hornets with 20 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. "Those are shots that we practice all the time. When Greivis drove the lane, my man stepped up, and Greivis made a great play. That's just good team basketball."
The Blazers still had 1.8 seconds to either tie or win. Stotts set up a good play to get Matthews free in the right corner. Matthews, who led all scorers with 24 points, looked wide open when he took the inbounds pass from Batum, but Davis left Aldridge inside to close out on Matthews. His 6-foot-10 frame, long wing span and leaping ability made a difference.
"We'd rather give up a 2 than a 3," Davis said. "I saw (Matthews) coming out wide open. I just jumped as high as I could and extended. Hopefully, I tried to alter his shot. I'm not sure if the ball slipped out of his hand."
In beating the Blazers (29-33) for the second time at home in a month, the Hornets (22-42) snapped a three-game losing streak and dealt the Blazers' playoffs hope a blow, especially considering Portland was coming off a 30-point road victory over San Antonio on Friday night. They are still in 10th place in the Western Conference, three full games behind the Lakers for the eighth playoff spot.
"This was a very disappointing loss," Stotts said. "We felt we were in position to win it a couple of times, and we either didn't come up with a rebound or get a stop that we needed."
Anderson led the Hornets with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Vasquez had 20 points and five assists.
Leading 78-75, the Hornets hit three consecutive 3-pointers -- by Darius Miller, Anderson and Vasquez -- to take an 87-77 lead with 6:54 left. Still, no lead was safe, considering they had blown leads of 25 points to the Lakers and 17 points to the Magic in their last two home games. Indeed, the Blazers rallied twice to take one-point leads.
"I had flashbacks, for sure," Vasquez said. "We needed this win. We needed it to grow. We understand as bad as it looks, we played some good basketball this week for 35 minutes. We were blowing teams out, and we just didn't play good defense in those games."
NOTES: The Hornets outrebounded the Blazers 48-30, including a 19-6 edge on the offensive glass. ... New Orleans also made 11 of 20 from 3-point range. ... Anderson recorded his ninth double-double of the season and recorded his season high (13) for rebounds. ... After Davis scored 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a 96-85 road loss to Memphis Saturday night, Hornets coach Monty Williams was asked if the NBA's top pick had extra incentive after being held out of the fourth quarter of a 108-102 loss to the Lakers, a game in which the Hornets blew a 25-point lead at home. "I don't think he's like that," Williams said. "I just think he wants to play well every time he goes out there. But it's hard, it's the NBA." Williams said he has urged Davis to use his speed and energy to evade bigger power forwards. ... Williams said guard Eric Gordon probably would be rested on the back end of consecutive games for the remainder of the season because the Hornets want to make sure they do not put too much stress on his right knee. "I would imagine (the doctors) feel like this is going to help him have a great summer and have a bang-out year next year," Williams said. ... Center Meyers Leonard, who had averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in three games before hurting his left ankle, did not play for Portland. Blazers coach Terry Stotts said rookie sensation Lillard has been a marvel of consistency. "He came into the league in November and made a splash, and he's become the focal point of a lot of teams' defenses and schemes, and teams have tried to take him out of the game," Stotts said. "He's been patient. He's learned the NBA game. He's taken things in stride."

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