By Rob Mahoney
The NBA world has been sleeping on the Hornets' Anthony Davis over the last few months, so it should come as little surprise that, if only for a moment, Kevin Garnett and the Celtics seemed to forget that the spindly, talented rookie even existed on Wednesday.
Eric Gordon drew seconds off the clock for the game's final possession with his team trailing by a point, and he ultimately settled for a difficult runner with 2.4 seconds remaining. Avery Bradley guarded it well, and Gordon's driving angle worked against him; the shot caught the backboard and the rim with just a bit too much force, sending a potential victory skimming off the basket and into the crowd of rebounders.
Yet out from that huddle came Davis' outstretched arm, his vehicle for a game-winning tip after slinking past Garnett and jumping over Jeff Green. It was an outstanding and timely play from a rookie who made an impact in the only fashion the clock would allow, and a validation of the kind of value that Davis can provide down the stretch of a close game if given the chance. On too many occasions Hornets coach Monty Williams has benched Davis at critical moments in favor of Robin Lopez, in theory because of Lopez's size and experience. But this is the kind of athletic play that Davis makes with regularity, as he leverages his height, speed and creativity to give the Hornets a very tangible benefit. As much as I can understand the purpose of keeping a young player on a certain developmental track, it's becoming more and more difficult to deny playing time to the franchise's most crucial prospect.