Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 90, Celtics 78 (1/16/13)

by Jim Eichenhofer

Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 90, Celtics 78

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Hornets (13-26), Celtics (20-18)

It was over when… a wide-open Ryan Anderson took a feed from Greivis Vasquez, dropped in a layup and drew a Boston foul for a conventional three-point play, giving New Orleans an 87-71 lead with 2:20 remaining. One night after an excellent 12-point road win in Philadelphia, the Hornets put together an even more impressive victory in the Northeast. New Orleans ended Boston’s six-game winning streak, despite resting Eric Gordon in the second game of a back-to-back set. The Hornets improved to 7-3 since Dec. 29, after they had started the season 6-23 prior to Gordon making his 2012-13 debut in Charlotte. New Orleans heads back to Louisiana for a practice day Friday, followed by Saturday’s home game against Golden State. 

Hornets MVP: You won’t get much debate in calling Wednesday’s 18-point, nine-rebound performance by Al-Farouq Aminu his best of the 2012-13 season. The third-year small forward has been a force on defense and the backboards since being re-inserted into the starting lineup. His aggressive play has also enabled him to increase his trips to the foul line, as evidenced by a 12-for-13 game in Boston. When Hornets backup point guard Brian Roberts was sidelined in the first half by a nasty ankle sprain (he did not return to the game), the Celtics chose Aminu to shoot Roberts’ free throws, but Aminu drained both shots and ultimately had the best game as a pro from the charity stripe. The Wake Forest product also contributed two steals as New Orleans held a normally balanced Boston offense to just 53 points in the final three quarters.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: For the second time in as many nights, there were numerous reserves to choose from as best NOLA substitute, a great sign. Give the slight edge to Jason Smith, whose ultra-efficient spark included 4-for-4 shooting from the field, accounting for all of his eight points in just 17 minutes of playing time. The 7-footer also packed in three rebounds, two assists and one steal. Smith was a bench-best plus-14 during his stints on the parquet floor. 

The buzz on… Rivers vs. Rivers. As Austin Rivers seemed to allude to after the game, the best aspect of Wednesday’s trip to Boston may not have been that the 20-year-old got a victory and short-term bragging rights over his father, Doc Rivers. It was that New Orleans prevailed again – and the younger Rivers played his best game in roughly three weeks. The Duke product had struggled mightily on offense since an 11-point output vs. Toronto on Dec. 28, but delivered eight key points at Boston. He dropped in a pair of driving layups, as well as a floater from the middle of the lane, going 3-for-6 from the field. “It feels good,” Austin said. “I finally came out and was actually aggressive. I tried to make plays. And our team played well. We responded to a back-to-back. For us to come in here and get a win against one of the best teams in the NBA, it feels pretty good.” Rivers said he made a conscious effort to make a bigger impact: “I looked at film of the past couple games I played. I felt like I’ve just been out there. I haven’t been aggressive. That’s not what I’m here to do. I’ve got to continue to get even more aggressive. It’s just a great game by our team."