NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Hornets’ first win of the season was overshadowed by an injury to rookie center Anthony Davis.
The No. 1 overall pick in the draft was inadvertently elbowed in the head by fellow rookie teammate Austin Rivers and left the game in the first half and didn’t return to the Hornets’ 88-86 victory over Utah on Friday night.
The team said after the game that Davis had a mild concussion and would not accompany the team to Chicago for Saturday night’s game and listed him as day to day.
Davis had eight points — all on dunks — six rebounds and two blocked shots before being injured with 4:51 to play in the first half.
The last-second win was even more impressive for the Hornets since they were also missing guard Eric Gordon who is out indefinitely with a right knee injury that limited him to nine games last season.
Talking before the game, coach Monty Williams would not confirm a report by Yahoo! Sports that Gordon would miss 4-to-6 weeks. Said Williams: `’We’re still processing information. We haven’t talked to any doctors. We certainly haven’t talked to our doctors on a day we’re getting ready for a game.”
Greivis Vasquez hit a driving layup with 1.3 seconds left to give New Orleans the win.
Vasquez, who had 13 points and 10 assists, drove past Gordon Hayward, who fell to the floor, and banked in a short shot over Al Jefferson. Utah had a chance to win after calling a 20-second timeout, but Mo Williams’ fallaway 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
“I was just focused and it was a huge shot,” Vasquez said. “It was my first huge shot of my NBA career.”
Vasquez started 26 games last season — his second in the NBA — as the Hornets struggled after dealing All-Star guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade he forced. The experience has paid off through two games this season, with Vasquez following a 13-assist effort against San Antonio on Wednesday by hitting his game-winner against Utah.
“The angle he had, I can’t figure out how that ball went in,” Monty Williams said. “I just thanked the Lord and moved on. The play was created for him to go with his right hand. He just made a heck of a play.”
Robin Lopez and Ryan Anderson both had 19 points for the Hornets. Anderson’s fifth 3-pointer with 32.7 seconds left gave them an 84-83 lead. After two free throws extended the lead to 86-83, Utah’s Paul Millsap drained a 3-pointer to tie it, setting up Vasquez’ finish.
“We were trying to switch everything,” Hayward said. `He just turned around and hit a tough shot.”
Reserve Randy Foye had 20 points for Utah while Williams added 16.
Anderson, who made an NBA-best 166 3-pointers for the Orlando Magic last season, got open on the baseline to hit what appeared like it might be the game-winner when Utah missed two shots on its next possession.
Instead, Millsap responded with a 3-pointer on a second-chance opportunity from the wing with 7.1 seconds left. He was 18 of 74 from 3-point range in his first six seasons in the NBA.
“I was like, `No way! No way,’ when he let it go,” Vasquez said. “You’ve got to give him credit.”
The Hornets closed it out without Davis, who scored 21 points in his debut on Wednesday in the Hornets’ 99-95 loss to San Antonio. At least for one half, they did not miss him, scoring 34 of their 48 second-half points in the paint.
New Orleans relied on the combination of Vasquez and Lopez in the fourth quarter. Vasquez scored and had two consecutive assists as the Hornets turned a 70-67 deficit into a 73-70 lead. Lopez had a point-blank putback, a hook shot and a follow tip of his own missed putback to give New Orleans an 81-77 lead with 4:01 left.
“He is playing tremendous and he has got his confidence back and we’ll keep going back to him,” Hornets forward Jason Smith said. “We kept it close and came up with a big win down the stretch. The drive by Greivis to win the game, he makes that shot on a consistent basis and that’s why we go to him.”
Foye hit a 3-pointer — his fourth of the game — to make it 81-80. Millsap drove for a dunk to give the Jazz an 82-81 lead, and seconds later, Vasquez was called for a charge.
After a replay reversal gave Utah the ball with 1:10 left, Hayward hit one of two free throws with 52.4 seconds left.
Foye blocked Roger Mason’s outside shot out of bounds, leading to a New Orleans timeout and setting up Anderson’s shot from the corner.
Before leaving, Davis made two spectacular plays, following a missed floater by Vasquez with a one-handed jam and driving through the lane for an emphatic dunk when no one picked him up.
“We learned a lesson,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. “We have to be more aggressive at the start of the game and play all 48 minutes. We didn’t play our best basketball.” NOTES: The Jazz began a stretch with eight of 10 games on the road after going 11-22 away from home last season. … Neither team shot a free throw until Vasquez hit one with 3:32 left in the first half. Utah’s first foul shot came with 1:26 left in the half.