NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez had spoken recently about the need to justify their new leadership roles with the young New Orleans Hornets by exerting the kind of feisty effort that would energize their slumping squad.
That talk became reality on Monday night.
Anderson scored 22 points, Lopez tied a season high with 21 and New Orleans won for only the second time in 11 games, 102-81 over the Milwaukee Bucks.
"We needed an effort game and we needed to prove to ourselves that when we play like that we can beat a team by a big margin," said Anderson, who like Lopez was a young role player on his former team before coming to New Orleans last summer in a trade. "We needed a win like that at home, too. That was a big win in a lot of ways. It sparks our confidence."
Lopez shot 8 of 10 from the field and made all five free throws he attempted. He also scored 11 straight points during a pivotal 13-0 run in the third quarter that gave New Orleans the lead for good.
"It's something we definitely talked about, being aggressive, but talk is cheap and what really counts is we went out there and did it," Lopez said.
Jason Smith added 12 points and Greivis Vasquez had 11 for the Hornets, who shot 52.4 percent (43 of 82) from the field.
Brandon Jennings hit five 3-pointers and finished with 25 points. Monta Ellis added 17 for Milwaukee, which shot 38.2 percent (29 of 76).
Milwaukee's Larry Sanders blocked seven shots and the Bucks outrebounded the Hornets 40-37. But that was not nearly enough to keep pace with a New Orleans squad that broke loose for one of its best performances of the season, despite being without top overall draft pick Anthony Davis (left ankle), who missed his eighth straight game.
"We just could not stop them," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "We thought at some point someone would stop someone, but we just couldn't get a stop and build some momentum."
The Bucks had 19 offensive rebounds, but because of poor shooting, they finished with fewer second-chance points (20) than the Hornets (23). New Orleans also outscored Milwaukee in the paint, 48-34.
"When we're really moving the ball around, we're really hard to guard. When we start dribbling too much, we get in trouble," Skiles said. "It seemed like we dribbled into crowds tonight and had trouble getting out of crowds, turned it over, they went down and made shots."
Indeed, the Hornets converted 16 Bucks turnovers into 27 points.