Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 99, Mavericks 96, OT

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Hornets (8-25), Mavericks (13-21)

It was over when… Dallas’ Vince Carter misfired on an attempt to tie the game at the end of overtime – Carter’s shot actually would have been a two-pointer, because his foot was on the line – wrapping up what was arguably the most dramatic New Orleans victory of 2012-13. The Hornets won for the first time in overtime this season, after dropping previous heartbreakers against Indiana, Phoenix and Toronto. In a game filled with late excitement and highlights, Eric Gordon shook off a poor first four quarters individually to score eight consecutive points in OT, including the go-ahead score with 4.7 seconds remaining. Gordon banked in a deep jumper and drew a foul, resulting in a three-point play that made it 99-96. 

Hornets MVP: Greivis Vasquez was in the proverbial “zone” shooting the ball in the second half Saturday. After scoring just four points in the opening half, he erupted for 21 in the final two quarters, including 15 in the fourth period. It was one of the most efficient games of his three-year NBA career, featuring 11-for-18 shooting from the field (at one point he was 10-for-12). Given his stellar offensive performance, it may be easy to overlook his quality all-around game, but along with his 25 total points, he also contributed seven rebounds and nine assists. “That was a huge win for us,” Vasquez said. “We played extremely hard. We played great. I’m just happy for my teammates, because we made it happen as a team. I’m just playing with confidence. Coach is giving me an opportunity, and I want to take advantage.”

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: The unsung hero off the bench in the Hornets’ first Southwest Division win this season was undoubtedly Jason Smith, who scored all 12 of his points after halftime. In just 28 minutes of action, Smith also grabbed seven rebounds. He scored a go-ahead layup with 46 seconds left in regulation to make it 89-88, butDallas tied it and forced the extra stanza when Dirk Nowitzki went 1-for-2 from the foul line on the Mavericks’ final possession. Smith also drained a key mid-range jumper in OT. 

The buzz on… three games into the return of Gordon. The CliffsNotes version of the comeback of the Hornets’ best player includes a scorecard that stands at two wins, one loss.New Orleans posted cliffhanger-type road victories at Charlotte and Dallas, sandwiched around a home loss on New Year’s Day toAtlanta. Even if you skipped 99 percent of all three games, you really only had to watch the final two minutes of overtime Saturday to comprehend what Gordon can mean to the Hornets. Although Vasquez has shown significant improvement in ability to create his own shot this season, Gordon adds another much-needed, NBA-proven, late-game offensive option. Overall, the fifth-year pro really hasn’t actually played that well by his standards in the three games, as evidenced by his field-goal shooting thus far of 14-for-43 (32.6 percent), but the impact on the team has still been fairly clear.New Orleans is now 8-4 over the past two seasons when Gordon plays, but just 21-66 when he does not.