NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis let a tense shoving match affect his play all right.
The New Orleans rookie, in his first game back from a concussion, showed the poise of a tested veteran after a brief but punch-free feud with Charlotte big man Byron Mullens late in the second quarter. Davis scored 18 of his 23 points after the standoff, and also finished with 11 rebounds and five blocks as the Hornets handed the Charlotte Bobcats their third straight loss, 107-99 on Friday night.
"He plays a lot more aggressive, and with a lot more intensity when he gets angry," said fellow Hornets rookie Darius Miller, Davis' former teammate at Kentucky. "So he got kind of mad, a little heated over the situation, and he pretty much dominated the game from then on out. So I've seen him do it before at Kentucky — many times."
Ryan Anderson hit five 3-pointers and finished with 25 points for New Orleans, which has won three of its first five games despite being without injured star guard Eric Gordon. Reserve Brian Roberts added 16 points and eight assists and Al-Farouq Aminu scored 14 points.
Ben Gordon scored 34 points to keep Charlotte within single digits most of the way, but the Hornets withstood each Bobcats surge in holding the lead for all of the final three quarters.
"With the players we have we'll be good enough to get some baskets, but it's really on the defensive end where we have to improve," Gordon said. "We have a young team and we'll just continue to work and try to grow in that area."
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Davis' former Kentucky teammate and the second overall draft pick, had 12 points and six rebounds for Charlotte. Ramon Sessions scored 13 and Kemba Walker scored 11.
One game after setting a franchise-low with 62 points in an ugly loss to Philadelphia, the Hornets shot nearly 52 percent (43 for 83) against Charlotte. New Orleans also turned the ball over only nine times after committing 24 turnovers against the Hornets.
"We certainly didn't turn the ball over and that's something we talk about every day, taking care of the ball and making sure we get a good shot up" Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "We beat a tough team. That team plays hard and they're hungry like we are. ... Our guys responded."
The turning point was Davis' altercation with Mullens as the two started up court from under the Hornets' basket. The tussle sent teammates running to separate them and sent official Bill Kennedy somersaulting backward into the front row, where he landed in the lap of Dennis Lauscha, president of the Hornets and NFL's Saints. (Both clubs are owned by Tom Benson, who was sitting next to Lauscha and narrowly avoided Kennedy.)
Davis downplayed the incident afterward.
"We were just playing basketball. It was a tough," Davis said. "This is what we love to do. No beef or nothing."