Hornets.com postgame: Cavaliers 105, Hornets 100
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Cavaliers (17-37), Hornets (19-36)
It was over when… All-Star guard Kyrie Irving took over the game for Cleveland in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points in short order, including a pair of free throws to make it 103-95 in the final half minute. Irving’s individual outburst reversed the momentum after New Orleans had grabbed a 69-68 lead entering the final quarter. The Hornets dropped a second straight game following the All-Star break, despite being in the hunt both times. NOLA will host Southwest Division counterpart Dallas on Friday.
Hornets MVP: One of the toughest choices of the season, with no player dominating, but a handful of Hornets making similar contributions (six players were in double digits scoring-wise). Given his modest allotment of 23 minutes and production of 12 points and six rebounds, Jason Smith may have been the most efficient visiting player in Cleveland other than Brian Roberts, who went on a scoring binge late in the game.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Statistically, it was Roberts’ best game in the NBA, featuring a team-best 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Roberts repeatedly made plays that drew the praise of ESPN analyst Jon Barry, who likely was watching the Dayton product play in person for the first time. Roberts scored 12 of New Orleans’ 31 points in the fourth quarter and was 3-for-4 overall from three-point range. The Hornets dug too big of a hole, though, for the point guard to overcome.
The buzz on… the Hornets’ likely final appearance on national TV this season. For fans who don’t subscribe to NBA League Pass and live outside Louisiana, Wednesday’s game was a rare chance to catch a glimpse of the 2012-13 Hornets. What they saw was a snapshot of some common New Orleans traits, including a tendency to hang tight in games but come up a bit short in crunch time. The Hornets gave a much better account of themselves than the previous ESPN appearance, a 77-62 loss to the 76ers in early November, particularly at the offensive end. New Orleans shot 49 percent from the field in Cleveland, went 7-for-15 from three-point range and was 19 of 22 on foul shots – all excellent numbers. Unfortunately, the team’s defensive inconsistency popped up at the worst time, with the Cavaliers getting too many quality shots and gunning for 37 points in the final 12 minutes. In terms of NOLA’s rookies, Austin Rivers generated one of his better games, scoring 11 points to reach double digits for the first time since Dec. 28. Anthony Davis was again extremely active early, but struggled with his touch, finishing 2-for-7 from the field. Davis notched 12 points and two blocks in 29 minutes.