Hornets.com postgame: Thunder 119, Hornets 74 (2/27/13)

by Jim Eichenhofer

Hornets.com postgame: Thunder 119, Hornets 74

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Thunder (42-15), Hornets (20-39)

It was over when… Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka threw down a fast-break dunk, giving the Thunder its first 30-point lead of the night midway through the third quarter at 82-52. Winning in one of the NBA’s loudest arenas is a tough enough task on its own, but it was made even more difficult for New Orleans due to the injury and rest absences of Anthony Davis (sprained left shoulder), Eric Gordon and Jason Smith. When Ryan Anderson and Greivis Vasquez each were whistled for two quick fouls in the first quarter, it was another bad omen for the visitors. The Thunder built a 62-45 halftime lead and were able to rest Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for the final 16 minutes or so.

Hornets MVP: New Orleans needed to generate offense from other areas aside from Anderson in order to have a chance to be competitive in the Sooner State, but it didn’t happen. Through three quarters, Anderson was the only Hornets player to crack double digits in points, part of the reason the Thunder were up 96-60 entering the final 12 minutes. Anderson, moved into the starting five for Davis on Wednesday, scored all of his 14 points in the first half.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Roger Mason scored seven points in 14 minutes of action, one of the few bright spots off the bench for New Orleans. In a sign of the kind of night it was from a Hornets perspective, Mason missed a technical foul shot, just his third misfire of the entire season in 37 attempts.

The buzz on… an interesting upcoming stretch. Like every team in the Western Conference, the Hornets have faced a brutal schedule, consistently going up against teams with more experience and more proven NBA players. At least on paper, however, next up for New Orleans is a more manageable three-game homestand than any in 2012-13. All three visitors (Detroit, Orlando, the Lakers) currently have losing records, with only Los Angeles still having a realistic chance to qualify for the playoffs. Though the Hornets’ Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back vs. Brooklyn and Oklahoma City was a stiff test, perhaps the next week will be a better gauge of the club, given that they are facing opponents in similar stages of rebuilding in the Pistons and Magic. Following this three-game homestand, the next home tilt for NOLA is March 10 vs. Portland, a team that lost by 36 points in its previous trip to the Crescent City.