Hornets.com postgame: Grizzlies 96, Hornets 89
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Grizzlies (14-3), Hornets (5-13)
It was over when… the Hornets turned the ball over trailing 94-87 with less than a minute remaining. The ever-crafty Zach Randolph then tipped in a Memphis miss at the other end to give the Grizzlies a nine-point edge at 40.6 seconds. New Orleans closed its lengthy homestand with a 1-4 mark, beating Milwaukee but losing to a quartet of quality opponents. The Hornets trailed by 12 at halftime Friday, but methodically got back into the hunt, before running out of steam in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. There's no rest for the weary - New Orleans will travel to Miami tonight to face the Heat on Saturday in South Florida.
Hornets MVP: Brian Roberts continues to demonstrate his above-average shooting ability, making him one of the best individual stories of the early season for New Orleans. The NBA rookie, who played the previous four seasons in Israel and Germany, tied for team scoring honors with 15 points. In recent days head coach Monty Williams has stressed that he wants Roberts to be more aggressive in looking for his own shot, partly because Roberts has been so effective on jumpers and floaters. After a 6-for-10 (1-for-1 on treys) game, Roberts is up to 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range this season, both excellent rates for a point guard who doesn’t get many easy baskets.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: In his best game in the NBA to date, Austin Rivers sliced through the Memphis defense repeatedly in the fourth quarter, serving as a catalyst during the Hornets’ comeback efforts. The rookie guard finished with 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field. Rivers scored eight points in the fourth quarter. His offensive woes have been well-documented – including an 0-for-12 shooting stretch entering Friday’s game – making the performance a major plus for NOLA. “He has to know that I’m going to stick with him,” Williams said of his patience during Rivers’ struggles. “I think he understands that. In most situations, with a young guy struggling the way he has, he would sit down or go to the D-League. (But) we made a commitment to developing his game and making sure he matures. The only way he’s going to mature is to go through some of that tough stuff. Now he knows how to handle it, to keep working and come out of it. We’ll see how he plays tomorrow, but that’s a good sign.”
The buzz on… a starting-lineup change at small forward. About 90 minutes before tip-off, Williams told the media that Xavier Henry would start at the 3, replacing Al-Farouq Aminu. Henry has not played particularly well offensively this season by virtually any statistical measure, making the move a surprise, but Williams said he believed the third-year wing could make an impact on defense. That happened Friday, with Henry making a few disruptive plays against the Grizzlies. He also tallied a season-high 12 points in 21 minutes. Henry had seldom played enough in any game to make this kind of an impact – entering Friday, he had logged the fewest total minutes (133) in 2012-13 of any New Orleans player. “I thought he played well,” Williams assessed. “He and Darius (Miller) did a good job (defending Rudy Gay), but Rudy made tough shots.” Meanwhile, Aminu did not enter the game, the first DNP for him in his season-plus as a member of the Hornets. The third-year pro appeared in all 66 regular season games for New Orleans in 2011-12 and had started all 17 contests this season.