NEW ORLEANS — In the Hornets’ last road victory, a big one against the Clippers on Nov. 26, they were very aggressive, particularly offensively.
In the Hornets’ last victory, at home against the Bucks, they shared the ball and the offense looked crisp. That had been the point of a meeting of the teams’ veteran players after the previous game, a massacre at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
If the Hornets can meld the elements of their past two victories Saturday night when they meet the Heat at Miami, they might have a shot at a stunning development.
The Heat the defending NBA champion, was tied for the league’s best record. That was before losing its past two games, at Washington and at home against the New York Knicks.
The Heat won the NBA title last season on the strength of its defensive play, led by matrix forward LeBron James. However, in both of Miami’s two recent back-to-back losses, there was a common theme.
Their opponent reaped dividends because of sharing the ball.
With point guard Raymond Felton in attack mode, New York beat Miami without All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, whose left hand was cut when he went for a loose ball the previous game against Charlotte.
“The key to us playing good offense is that the ball has to move from side to side, and we have enough guys who can make shots,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
Ball movement also was key for the Wizards, who came into the game with the NBA’s worst record at 1-12. Washington had a season-high 31 assists, with seven players getting at least three, and shot 48.1 percent.
The Wizards were able to get to the basket, resulting in their making (22 of 29) more free throws than the Heat took (11 of 16), usually a surefire key to winning basketball.
Rookie forward Anthony Davis, who has missed 10 games with a stress reaction in his left ankle, is expected to return for Tuesday’s home game against the Washington Wizards, according to an NBA source.
Heading into Friday’s game against Memphis, the Hornets were 2-7 since he injured the ankle on Nov. 17 at Milwaukee.
This week, he removed the walking boot used to stabilize the ankle, and Thursday worked with coach Monty Williams after practice on low-post moves.
That appeared to be a sign that Davis’ return was imminent, especially coming after Williams said earlier in the week that “My guess is we will really ramp up his conditioning in the next three or so days.”
“He’s got more testing to do medically to see where he’s at,” said Williams, who added he did not know how close Davis was to returning.
Meanwhile Eric Gordon is said to be making progress in his rehabilitation in Los Angeles. Gordon was said to have a sore right knee and has been working on strengthening his quadriceps.
Davis missed his first game in his hometown Chicago on Nov. 2 because of concussion symptoms.
He was disappointed in having to sit out the Knicks game at the Arena on Nov. 20 because of the chance to play against USA Olympic teammates Anthony and Tyson Chandler, both of whom had worked with Davis on nuances of the game.
On Wednesday, Davis sat while his teammates played the Lakers in the game in which Kobe Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 30,000 points.
Long after the game, Bryant emerged from the Lakers’ lockerroom to find Davis leaning against the wall, waiting. Davis gushed like a baby brother whose big brother had come home from college.
“My young fella!” Bryant bellowed as the two slapped hands hard, then embraced.
Davis gushed like a baby brother whose rock-star big brother had come home from a concert tour and was showering him with attention.
The two talked for 15 minutes, Bryant giving encouragement and dispensing advice and telling Davis to stay in touch.
A reporter asked Williams how cool it would be on hand to see Bryant score his 30,000th point.
“I don’t know; I’d rather wash my face in paint,” Williams said after the Hornets’ shootaround on the morning before Wednesday night’s game. “It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t want to see him score any points. NBA people get caught up in all that stuff. He’s beaten me too many times over the years for me to worry about him scoring more points. I hope he gets 10 turnovers to go with however many points he scores.”
After the game, Williams congratulated Bryant on becoming just the fifth player to reach the milestone and said he was one of the best players ever.
Thursday, however, the thought still hadn’t left him. Asked what he could do to help his team get out of it’s third-quarter doldrums, Williams said, “It would help if they didn’t announce that someone had scored 30,000 points” before the start of the third.
What’s in a name
Concerning the new name change, the Hornets certainly are on the same page concerning questions about it, suggesting a team meeting had been held with the media relations department.
“My thing has always been the name on the front of the jersey; as long as it’s New Orleans, I’m happy,” Williams said. “The league controls all that stuff. I’m sure there’s some local creativity going on, and that’s great. But personally, I’m more concerned that we are a New Orleans franchise. … As long as the team is here, I’m cool with whatever name we have.”
Williams has said he likes coaching here because of the small-market, college feel to the fans’ support of the team.
Anderson was asked about it just seconds later.
“I’m more interested in the name on the front of the jersey,” he said. “As long as it says New Orleans . . . We don’t have any control over that, any way. Hey, I’m just glad to be in the NBA. I pinch myself everyday that I’m here.”
During last weekend’s Comicon convention in New Orleans, Anderson dressed as a rather tall Batman.
“I’m Ryan Anderson normally,” said Anderson, 6 foot-10. “They didn’t know anything about that, because Comicon, that’s my alter ego. Comicon is one thing, and it’s fun to do.”
Stumping for Vasquez
The Hornets have begun campaigning, at least with local media who cover the team, for point guard Greivis Vasquez for Most Improved Player.
Vasquez, who ranked fifth in the NBA in assists per game, is averaging nearly double his career averages in three categories. He is averaging 13.0 points (career average is 6.8), 8.7 assists (4.2 career) and 3.7 rebounds (2.0 career).
Vasquez’s game against Chris Paul, considered the best point guard in the league, in the Hornets’ victory at the Los Angeles Clippers is a big positive for media voters. However, more team wins would greatly help his cause.
Anderson, who led the NBA in 3-pointers made in 2011-12, was selected Most Improved last season.