Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 93, Suns 84
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Hornets (16-33), Suns (17-33)
It was over when… Al-Farouq Aminu sank a pair of free throws, then drained a deep two-point jumper, giving New Orleans a 93-80 lead with 1:22 remaining. Aminu’s best offensive performance in a few weeks helped the Hornets snap a four-game losing streak. New Orleans led by a point at halftime but outplayed Phoenix in each quarter of the latter half. The Hornets pulled within a half game of the Suns, as they try to climb out of the bottom spot of the Western Conference standings. New Orleans will head back out on the road this weekend during the culmination of Mardi Gras, visiting Atlanta on Friday.
Hornets MVP: After recently being the subject of some plainspoken criticism from Monty Williams for a few ineffective performances, Greivis Vasquez played one of his best games as a Hornet, finishing with 19 points, 12 assists and zero turnovers. “Greivis had big-time command of the game tonight,” Williams complimented. “It was pretty special.” The 6-foot-6 point guard was pleased in particular with his 12-0 ratio: “That’s impressive. I’m not perfect. I might turn the ball over a couple times, but it’s because I’m trying to make plays. Tonight was a great night for me.”
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Ryan Anderson had one of his typical games of late, starting out a bit slow with his shooting touch, but delivering key baskets after intermission. He nailed a pair of three-pointers in the second half, part of the nine points he tallied there. Overall, Anderson totaled 14 points. His scoring presence has been invaluable when he’s on the floor with four other reserves, who have been mostly inconsistent other than Jason Smith. Williams rode the group for a big chunk of the fourth quarter Wednesday. Though the subs sputtered offensively, they held onto the lead by keeping the Suns from scoring.
The buzz on… Eric Gordon through his first 16 games back from injury. The Hornets are 9-7 when the shooting guard plays, after starting the season 6-23 overall without him (they are also 1-3 in the recent back-to-backs he has been held out of by the team). By Gordon’s standards, his individual offensive statistics have not been great, including dipping back below 40 percent from the field after Wednesday’s 3-for-14 outing. However, the impact he’s made on the team has been undeniable in the win column. It’s also evident when Gordon comes off a pick or dribbles into the paint and draws multiple defenders. “Every team is either double-teaming me, or there is always an extra guy helping off on me,” Gordon said. “We run plays off of that (to free up Hornets teammates). Guys hit shots (tonight).” In terms of his shooting numbers, the fifth-year pro believes his continued improvement in conditioning will help. “When I came back, I was nowhere near in shape,” he said of his late December return. “I’m still not 100 percent today. But I’m battling through it. I know that I’m still capable of scoring. Sometimes it’s hard to operate when you see another (defender). You have to hit your teammate with an open pass. I’m not able to move as fast or as much as I want to, but it’s getting better. I’m getting better physically. It’s going to come.”