Hornets 100, Pistons 95

As Greivis Vasquez dribbled along the perimeter in the final

half-minute of a one-point game, he could only hope to overcome the

memories of anti-clutch moments that have plagued the young

Hornets.

”In my head I’ve got all the games that we couldn’t close and

we lost,” Vasquez said. ”That was one thing I got in my mind at

the end when I took the last shot. We were just messing a lot of

games up at the end and I’ve got to get better quick. … We have

to make good decisions at the end of the game.”

Now there’s evidence of progress on that front.

Vasquez capped a 25-point, nine-assist performance by hitting a

running floater off the backboard with 12 seconds left, and New

Orleans beat the Detroit Pistons 100-95 on Friday night to snap a

two-game skid.

”He’s one of the most improved players in the league,” Pistons

coach Lawrence Frank said of Vasquez. ”He’s got great court vision

plus he shoots it well enough where you have to respect his

shot.”

Eric Gordon added 21 points and Ryan Anderson 19 points and 13

rebounds for the Hornets, who were short-handed in the frontcourt

with starting forward Anthony Davis sitting out his second straight

game because of a sprained left shoulder. New Orleans was also

without 7-footer Jason Smith, a top reserve forward and center. The

club announced earlier Friday that he’d miss the rest of the season

with a right shoulder injury.

Anderson, known more for his scoring, said he knew he had to

pick up some of the slack on the defensive end.

”We need to really get to the boards a little bit more, so

that’s something I came out tonight and knew I needed to do,”

Anderson said. ”It’s tough because they’re a big team and we had

to be active.”

New Orleans native Greg Monroe had 27 points and 10 rebounds for

Detroit, while Brandon Knight added 22 points, including a

3-pointer that tied the score at 91.

Vasquez’s final basket made it 98-95. Rodney Stuckey then missed

a 3-point attempt that could have tied it in the final seconds, but

Frank said that shot came only after Detroit’s initial plan for a

quick two points failed.

”We wanted to go directly into Greg,” Frank said. ”We didn’t

execute like we wanted to, and that was disappointing.”

Though not for Hornets coach Monty Williams.

”I was really pleased the way we defended the last play,”

Williams said. ”It was nice to see us execute properly. We forced

Stuckey into a fast shot.”

New Orleans closed the third quarter with an 8-0 run, capped by

Anderson’s second 3, to take a 74-69 lead.

New Orleans was still ahead 91-84 when Gordon scored inside, but

Detroit responded with a 9-0 run that Knight began with a driving

layup. Jason Maxiell then dunked, Knight came back with his tying 3

and Monroe dunked to give the Pistons a 93-91 lead with 1:58

left.

Vasquez then hit two free throws to tie it, Gordon added another

free throw and then Anderson used a perimeter fake to set up a

driving layup that made it 96-93. Maxiell had a chance to tie it

when he dunked as he was fouled, but he missed the free throw,

allowing Vasquez to put New Orleans up by three again with his late

floater.

The Pistons wound up shooting 50 percent (39 of 78), scoring 56

points in the paint. But the Pistons also turned the ball over 14

times, were outrebounded 47-40 and were outscored at the free-throw

line, 23-10.

The game was competitive throughout, with Detroit building the

largest lead of either team at 10 points in the first quarter.

There were 12 ties and nine lead changes.

”It was a tough game and both teams played really hard,”

Monroe said. ”A couple more plays could have won the game for us.

They had more plays.

”They did a good job fighting for the ball,” Monroe added.

”They just kept working harder than us, that’s all.”

Al-Farouq Aminu had 14 rebounds and Robin Lopez scored 10 points

for New Orleans. Maxiell and Kyle Singler each scored 10 for

Detroit, while Jose Calderon had 11 assists.

New Orleans struggled throughout the game to stop Monroe, who

helped Detroit take a 14-4 in the opening five minutes with strong

inside baskets to the delight of a large contingent of fans in his

hometown.

Detroit maintained the lead into the second quarter, going ahead

33-25 on Stuckey’s fast-break layup.

New Orleans then surged ahead for the first time with a 10-0 run

highlighted by Vasquez’s three-point play and Anderson’s

3-pointer.

Gordon had 18 of his points in the opening half, including six

free throws, the last of which put the Hornets up 45-40.

The Pistons’ however, took a 49-47 lead into halftime after

scoring the last five points of the period, including Monroe’s

putback after he’d grabbed two offensive rebounds in the same

possession.

NOTES: With Smith missing the remainder of the season with a

torn labrum in his right shoulder, Williams said the Hornets would

try to sign another big man soon. … The game was the second and

last between the teams. The Hornets won the first, 105-86 in

Detroit on Feb. 11. … With Monroe being a local native, the

Hornets permitted fans wearing T-shirts bearing his name to line

the tunnel leading to the court from the visitors’ locker room, and

they cheered wildly for the visiting Pistons as they took the court

for the second half. … Sitting in the first few rows were singer

and songwriter Brian McKnight, actor and ”Treme” star Wendell

Pierce, and former LSU star Tryann Mathieu.