Saturday, March 16, 2013

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler

When Anthony Davis was born in 1993, the New Orleans Hornets were still in their 5th season as a franchise in Charlotte. Now in its 11th season in NOLA, the franchise has endured horrendous losing seasons, natural disasters, and the loss of one of its biggest stars, Chris Paul, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Eric Gordon following the end of the 2011 lockout. But, in the summer of 2012, New Orleans selected Davis, the power forward from Kentucky known for his striking unibrow, with the 1st pick in the NBA Draft. Finally, after Hurricane Katrina, years of mediocrity, and the departure of CP3, there was hope in the Crescent City. Earlier this season, it was announced that the Hornets would change their name to the Pelicans at the conclusion of the 2012-13 campaign, changing their team colors from teal and yellow to navy blue, red, and gold.

Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu stretches during pregame warmups
Hornets forward Darius Miller shoots from the corner, as teammates look on
Former Duke forward Lance Thomas has averaged 2.6 points per game in his second season with the Hornets.
Hornets guards Xavier Henry, left, and Terrel Harris, right, were all smiles before the game.
Born in Atlanta, Aminu represents Nigeria internationally. He is a descendant of a line of Nigerian kings.
Aminu has averaged 7.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in his 2012-13 campaign with New Orleans.
Darius Miller joined Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis in New Orleans, after he was selected by the Hornets 46th overall in the 2012 NBA draft.
In his rookie season, Anthony Davis has averaged 13 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Davis stretches with Hornets coaching intern Jamelle McMillan
Hornets forward Lou Amundson is on his fourth team of the season, having already been released by both Minnesota and Chicago.
Davis does some strength exercises prior to the game.
Hornets rookie guard Brian Roberts has averaged 6.4 points and 2.3 assists in 14.6 minutes per game in New Orleans this season.
The Washington Wizards had earned their first road victory of the season over the Hornets down in New Orleans on December 11th by a score of 77-70. Tonight, New Orleans made its first, and only trip to the Verizon Center tied for last place in the Western Conference with a record of 22-43. Meanwhile, Washington had ascended the Eastern Conference standings all the way to a respectable 11th place, after starting the season an abysmal 5-28, the worst in the league. Another former Kentucky star, John Wall, has had a lot to do with the Wizards resurgence, averaging 15.3 points and 7.5 assists in 31 games this season. Bradley Beal has also been a key contributor to the recent success of the Wizards, but remained sidelined with a sprained left ankle he suffered in a victory over the Sixers on March 3rd.

The total attendance for tonight's game was listed as 14, 942, but this number seemed impossibly inflated, given all the empty seats. There was a large contingent of Kentucky fans on hand to catch Davis and Wall, but aside from that there wasn't too much fanfare. It was a late arriving crowd. Hornets fans were few and far between, but I did see one couple sporting New Orleans Pelicans T-Shirts, a sight I had not yet seen. There were a couple of fans from Venezuela in attendance to see their countryman Greivis Vasquez, who played his college ball at nearby University of Maryland.

Before the game, I took a picture of Nate McMillan, the former Seattle Supersonics guard, who had most recently coached the Portland Trailblazers. Suddenly, I wondered if a coaching change in D.C. may be imminent, but I'll save that speculation for the off-season. It wasn't until later that I discovered that his son Jamelle was a coaching intern for the New Orleans Hornets.

Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez tries to escape pressure Wizards forwards Trevor Booker, left, and Trevor Ariza, right
Hornets guard Eric Gordon drives around Wizards forward Trevor Ariza
Eric Gordon tries to climb the ladder on Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin
Hornets forward Lou Amundson tries to convert a layup over Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin
Gordon directs the New Orleans offense
Gordon is fouled hard by Trevor Booker
Wizards forward Trevor Booker boxes out Hornets center Robin Lopez
Gordon drives baseline on Trevor Ariza
Wizards forward Nene appears to be the top candidate to grab this loose ball
Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu glides to the basket
Hornets forward Anthony Davis reaches for a ball in mid-air, as Wizards forward Trevor Ariza waits for it to come down.
Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu knocks the ball away from Wizards forward Cartier Martin
Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu comes away with the loose ball after deflecting it away from Wizards forward Cartier Martin
Behind 29 points and 9 assists from John Wall, the Wizards won comfortably by a score of 96-87. Martell Webster added 18 for Washington. Garrett Temple, Kevin Seraphin, and Cartier Martin each had 10.

New Orleans was paced by Eric Gordon with 20 points. Grevis Vasquez added 18 points and 9 assists. Anthony Davis contributed 16 points and 7 rebounds.

The Wizards will be right back at the Verizon Center tomorrow night to host the Phoenix Suns.