Hornets-Magic Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 25, 2012
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Ryan Anderson had the best season of his career for the Orlando Magic in 2011-12, pricing himself out of a new contract with the team in the process. The New Orleans Hornets gave him the dollars he sought, but he isn't enjoying much success at the moment. Anderson will look to help New Orleans avoid matching a franchise-record 12-game losing streak in his return to Orlando on Wednesday night. Anderson was named the NBA's Most Improved Player after averaging career highs of 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds while hitting a league-high 166 3-pointers for the Magic last season. He was a restricted free agent during the offseason, and New Orleans signed him to a four-year, $36 million offer sheet. Orlando decided not to match and completed a sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets, acquiring big man Gustavo Ayon. Anderson is scoring a team-high 17.8 points per game, but Western Conference-worst New Orleans (5-22) has struggled. It has lost 11 straight after blowing a 22-point lead in Saturday's 81-75 home loss to Indiana, getting outscored 24-7 in the third quarter. Anderson, who has come off the bench in the last four games, shot 2 of 9 for six points. He has totaled 25 in his last three contests on 9-of-37 (24.3 percent) shooting. "I think it's a bit of teams trying to take him out (of his game) and we don't have enough experience to play off of that," coach Monty Williams said. Robin Lopez scored a season-high 24 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had a career high-tying six blocks Saturday for the Hornets, who are nonetheless on the verge of matching their franchise-worst losing streak set from Jan. 19-Feb. 14, 1990. "We didn't really understand the moment," Williams said. "I thought we played not to lose instead of playing to win. We have to own it and move forward, but it's a tough one to swallow." Anthony Davis shot 5 of 14 from the field and scored 10 points, while fellow rookie Austin Rivers finished 3 of 12 with seven points. "We came out flat in the second half, and to sum it all up you have to come out and play a full 48 minutes, not just one half," Rivers said. "That's what we need to learn, is to fight for the whole game." The Magic (12-15) are coming off a 97-93 home loss to Utah on Sunday, as Ayon missed two free throws that could've tied the game in the closing seconds. Ayon, who finished with nine points and 12 rebounds, started in place of the injured Glen Davis, who missed his second straight game and is out indefinitely with a left shoulder sprain. Arron Afflalo scored 20 points while Nikola Vucevic added 16 and 16 rebounds for Orlando, which tied its season worst with 20 turnovers. "Turnovers are always going to hurt," Vucevic said. "You're missing an offensive chance to score. We had a lot of them." The Magic, who committed 18 turnovers in Friday's 93-90 loss at Toronto, have shot 50.0 percent in back-to-back games but have been doomed by their inability to take care of the ball. "I think it's pretty simple," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "You outrebound a team, you shoot 50 percent from the field, make nine 3s, have 20 turnovers for 22 points. The game is really that simple." Anderson sat out with a calf injury for Orlando as New Orleans won the most recent meeting 93-67 on Jan. 27, marking the Hornets' fourth straight victory in the series.
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