Davis sparked a comeback with 10 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and stripped Tracy McGrady in the final seconds as the Hornets rallied for an 80-79 victory over the Orlando Magic in the opener of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Mashburn, who averaged a team-leading 21.5 points per game during the regular season, started despite a stomach virus but clearly was too sick too play. He missed all six of his shots and vomited behind the bench before leaving the game and being taken to a hospital for observation.
Without Mashburn, the Hornets struggled on offense, taking bad shots and missing most of them. They trailed 74-63 with less than eight minutes remaining before Davis led a late surge.
The All-Star point guard had a driving layup and two free throws in a 15-1 run. P.J. Brown's two free throws capped the surge and gave the Hornets a 78-75 lead with 3:07 to play.
"When we needed baskets, (Davis) penetrated to the hoop and made free throws," Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "That's what big players do."
McGrady, hobbled by a sore back that had him wincing and limping all game, made a foul shot before Davis sank a fadeaway from the foul line for an 80-76 lead with 2:35 left.
A layup by Troy Hudson -- Orlando's first basket in over six minutes -- halved the deficit with 1:42 remaining.
McGrady missed a 3-pointer, then drew a foul with 28 seconds to go. But he split the free throws, leaving Charlotte with a one-point lead.
Davis was double-teamed and had his pass deflected and stolen with 7.6 seconds left. The Magic went to McGrady and the superstar tried to drive right on George Lynch. But Davis flashed in front of him, knocked away the ball and dribbled up the left sideline as time expired.
"Coach told me to double-team," Davis said. "I had Darrell Armstrong, so I really didn't want to do it. I saw him go around George. I took off and went for the ball." "Baron came out of nowhere and took the ball away," McGrady said. "It was a great defensive play. The best guy on their team made the play of the game. He really snuck in there and got the ball away."
Game Two of the best-of-five series is Tuesday night in Charlotte.
McGrady, who scored 20 points on 8-of-21 shooting, spent his time on the bench lying on his stomach with a heating pad on his back. The All-Star swingman sat for most of the third quarter and returned early in the fourth period but clearly was not himself.
"My back tightened up in the third quarter on a turnaround shot with David Wesley guarding me," McGrady said. "I felt the pain and really didn't think I would play anymore."
"On the last play, Tracy had me beat, but he didn't have enough with his bad back bothering him," Lynch said.
Davis made just 9-of-24 shots but added seven assists and seven rebounds. He played all 48 minutes, picking up the slack for the missing Mashburn.
"We played with Mash out half the season, so we know how to win without him," Davis said. "I have the experience to be the go-to guy when he is out, and that really helped me tonight."
"I knew something was wrong with Mash," Silas said. "He was not himself tonight."
Brown collected 14 points and 15 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Hornets, who overcame 35 percent (29-of-83) shooting with their huge size advantage. Charlotte held a 51-32 rebounding edge, including 20-3 on the offensive end.
"It was very physical, especially Charlotte," Magic coach Doc Rivers said. "We have to be more physical."
Until the final period, the Hornets did not get a lift from the crowd, which was just 9,505. But they got a big boost from Lynch, who had four points and five rebounds in 16 minutes and did a solid job on McGrady.
"My strategy was just to be physical and make him work for every shot," Lynch said.
"George Lynch made the difference tonight," Silas added. "Tracy was going off, but we put George on him and he did an excellent job defensively."
Silas put Lynch on McGrady after McGrady made two free throws and two jumpers to give Orlando a 74-63 lead with 7:55 to go. A 3-pointer by Wesley and Lynch's jumper gave Charlotte a 76-75 edge with 4:16 remaining before Brown's free throws.
With Mashburn struggling, Charlotte missed 15 of its first 17 shots. Armstrong made his first five and Orlando opened a 28-17 lead before Davis closed the first quarter with a 3-pointer.
The Hornets closed to 44-39 at halftime and appeared ready to make a move when McGrady left in the third quarter. But the Magic put together a 14-3 run, opening their largest lead at 62-49 on two free throws by Troy Hudson.
"We missed layups and had 16 offensive boards in the first half and didn't convert them," Silas said.
Armstrong scored 16 points and Monty Williams added 14 for the Magic, who shot 45 percent (30-of-67) but made just 1-of-6 3-pointers, usually a big part of their offense.