PHILADELPHIA — The young New Orleans Hornets are growing up in the new year.
Greivis Vasquez scored 23 points, Eric Gordon added 19, and the Hornets beat the Philadelphia 76ers 111-99 on Tuesday night. After losing 13 of 16 in December, New Orleans has won five of eight in January.
Ryan Anderson had 14 points, Xavier Henry scored 11 and Anthony Davis 10 for the Hornets, who are still last in the Western Conference at 12-26 — including matching 6-13 records at home and on the road.
“We’re getting healthy now, and we are becoming a team now,” said Vasquez, who added nine assists. “We have guys who can just get out there and go. And I think our best weapon right now is our energy, because we’re so young.”
Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 29 points and 11 assists. Nick Young and Evan Turner added 14 points each while Thaddeus Young scored 12.
The Sixers have been inconsistent all season and this game was further proof following a resounding 107-100 victory Saturday over Houston. Philadelphia still hasn’t won consecutive games since a three-game streak from Nov. 25-30.
“The disappointing thing for me is night to night, I don’t know what I’m going to get,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said.
The Sixers began a stretch of 12 of 13 at home with the victory over the Rockets, and appeared to have a good chance to string together a winning streak — especially with sub-.500 teams New Orleans and Toronto (Friday) coming to town.
Plus, Philadelphia received a dose of good news Monday when All-Star center Andrew Bynum took shots during practice with the coaching staff. Bynum, who has yet to play a game for his new team this season, is currently on a six-step rehabilitation process that he hopes will get him back into the lineup around the Feb. 15 All-Star break.
Bynum has been lifting weights, and he began running on Monday while saying his knees were pain-free.
But the lift from seeing Bynum work out didn’t transfer into this game against New Orleans.
“We can’t let teams jump on us in the first quarter,” Thaddeus Young said.
The Hornets outscored Philadelphia 33-21 in the third quarter, extending a six-point halftime lead to 86-68. New Orleans pushed its lead to 20 after Henry’s dunk with 11:26 remaining and the fans vehemently displayed their displeasure with a cascade of boos throughout the arena.
“Third quarter, we got control of the game and our defense really carried us,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “To come out with that kind of energy, we haven’t had a lot of those nights. This is a major step for us and it says a lot about our team.”
Collins tried to jump-start his team by putting Nick Young in the lineup to open the fourth. Young was benched against the Rockets and sat for the first three quarters against the Hornets. But Young sparked the Sixers with 14 points in the fourth and they got within eight on a 3-pointer by Dorell Wright with 5:25 left.
It was too little too late.
“I can’t find answers,” Collins said. “It’s not like I’m not trying.”
The Hornets responded and quickly pushed the lead back to 105-91 after a 3-pointer by Vasquez.
“We have raised the expectation level for us,” Gordon said. “When we have consistent play, and you combine that with the chemistry we now have, it is something to build off.”
New Orleans was strong throughout the first half and took a 53-47 halftime lead thanks to 57-percent shooting (24-for-42).
The Hornets shot 16-of-21 (76.2 percent) in the first quarter. ... The Sixers knocked down six 3-pointers in the first, a team high for any quarter this season. . Holiday recorded his 10th double-double of the season.