Wizards-Hornets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 10, 2012
While there's a chance Anthony Davis could return to the New Orleans Hornets' lineup as early as Tuesday night, recent news surrounding fellow former No. 1 overall pick John Wall hasn't been as promising. That doesn't bode well for a Washington Wizards team that saw a couple of other key players go down last week. The Hornets try for a sixth win in eight matchups against the injury-plagued Wizards, who are still seeking their first road victory. Having lost 12 of 14, New Orleans (5-14) is surely looking forward to getting Davis back on the court. The former Kentucky star has missed the last 11 games with a stress reaction in his left ankle, though coach Monty Williams said he should be available sometime this week. The NBA-worst Wizards (2-15), meanwhile, have struggled mightily without Wall, who was originally expected to return in late November following a stress injury to his left knee. The first overall selection in 2010, also out of Kentucky, isn't ready to practice and coach Randy Wittman isn't sure when he'll be able to return. Things aren't about to get any easier for Washington, which lost Trevor Ariza to a strained left calf during last Tuesday's 105-101 win over Miami then suffered another big blow Saturday. A.J. Price, who's started 15 of 17 games in Wall's point guard spot, fractured his right hand four minutes into a 101-97 loss to Golden State and will miss four to six weeks. "It leaves kind of a salty taste in your mouth," said Price, averaging 8.5 points and a team-best 4.9 assists. "We haven't been 100 percent all at the same time, so it's difficult right now but it's still a long season. We need to continue to try to get ourselves better, get ourselves right so we can get on the court together." The Wizards, who also continue to play without power forward Trevor Booker (knee), figure to rely on Jordan Crawford all the more with Price out. The guard matched season highs with 22 points and eight assists off the bench Saturday while filling in at the point. "Definitely tough, unexpected," said Crawford, averaging a team-leading 14.2 points. "Hopefully we can pull it together. I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team win." Crawford may need to come out with an especially big game Tuesday if he hopes to lead the Wizards to their first road win. Washington, which started 0-25 as the visiting team in 2010-11 and 0-8 last season, has begun 0-8 in opposing arenas again and is the league's only winless road team. The Wizards had dropped five of six in this series before pulling out a 99-89 victory in New Orleans on March 15 behind 26 points from Wall and 17 from Crawford. The Hornets are coming off their third straight loss, 106-90 at Miami on Saturday. Ryan Anderson had 24 points while Robin Lopez scored 20, but they couldn't slow down a Heat team that shot a season-best 58.0 percent from the floor. "We just need to come out and play with energy every night and play with effort. That is what our group is about," Anderson said. "Each night we're focused on us and getting better with this group. We know how good we are when we play right. We're a relentless team. No matter how much we're down we're going to try and fight back." Tuesday marks the first matchup between these teams since New Orleans traded Ariza and Emeka Okafor to Washington this offseason. Okafor is averaging career lows of 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Wizards.
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