Sporting a devolving shiner and a blood-shot left eye, star rookie Anthony Davis didn't think twice when asked to assess his team's 95-83 loss to the Jazz Friday night.
"We played hard all 48 minutes and that's all Coach Monty [Williams] is asking for," said Davis, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, who finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
The Hornets did play hard. They couldn't hit water from the middle of the Great Salt Lake the bench was an arctic 2 of 25 from the field but New Orleans matched Utah's intensity when only one team was plugging away for a chance to make the postseason.
When he wasn't happy with the way that star guard Eric Gordon, who played only 17 minutes in his first outing against the Jazz this season, Monty Williams pulled him and was visibly displeased with the way Gordon was defending.
"We're a team that plays hard and defends," Williams said. "Everybody needs to be coached, and I'm pushing them that's the bottom line. [Eric] needs to be coached, that's all."
Said Gordon of sitting out much of the second half: "It's his decision to take me out of the game for the rest of the game."
He finished with just seven points and two assists.
Now a 26-50 squad, the Hornets are still searching for how good they can be later on down the road, but under Williams, the team has adopted a physical brand of basketball that Jazz fans have grown accustomed to watching for decades.
They out-rebounded Utah 40-35 and dove for just as many loose balls with the same tenacity as the Jazz, who needed a win in order to stay in the Western Conference playoff picture.
"I like games like this as well, because it pushes me and makes me have to battle each possession and not take a possession off," Davis said.
Williams was complimentary, saying the Jazz, especially in the comfort of EnergySolutions Arena, don't let teams off easily all that often, so he found a silver lining.
"Their physical style of basketball can wear you out," he said of Utah.