Hornets.com postgame: Thunder 92, Hornets 88
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Thunder (18-4), Hornets (5-16)
It was over when… Oklahoma City’s Thabo Sefolosha sank two free throws with five-tenths of a second remaining, giving the hosts a two-possession edge. The Thunder escaped against a game, upset-minded Hornets club en route to securing their ninth consecutive victory. Seeking what would’ve been its most impressive triumph of 2012-13, New Orleans had a chance to potentially win on a Greivis Vasquez three-point attempt as time ticked down, but the shot from the right wing was just short (though on line with the hoop). Instead, the Hornets lost for a fifth straight time. Wednesday’s game was in stark contrast to the two previous Thunder-Hornets matchups, which were dominated by OKC.
Hornets MVP: In one of the more balanced performances of the season for New Orleans, it wasn’t easy to single out one player, but Brian Roberts continually made big shots in the second and fourth quarters. The backup point guard finished with a team-best 16 points, including 4-for-6 three-point shooting. He also contributed four assists and two steals. Trailing by four in the final minute, Anthony Davis missed the second of two free throws, but the Hornets tracked down the rebound and dished to Roberts, who cashed in on a timely three-pointer to cut it to 89-88.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: In his second game back from an ankle injury, Davis understandably doesn’t seem completely in rhythm yet on offense (3-for-8 shooting from field, 11 points in 28 minutes). Still, his activity around the basket at both ends of the floor has already been a welcome sight, with New Orleans holding its two opponents to 77 and 92 points in the pair of games. Davis had four rebounds and one block, but his presence in the paint also appeared to force OKC to rush a few interior passes and shots on offense.
The buzz on… a breakout performance by the bench. A primary reason behind Oklahoma City’s fantastic start has been its quality depth, which has allowed the defending West champions to not skip a beat despite the departure of James Harden (and, to a lesser degree, 2011-12 veteran pickup Derek Fisher). Bench points figured to be one area in which New Orleans might struggle Wednesday, but the visitors enjoyed a 39-28 scoring edge. Roberts and Davis combined for 27 points, while Xavier Henry provided six points in just 12 minutes. OKC’s Kevin Martin averaged 23.0 points in the pair of previous routs at New Orleans, but the Hornets limited him this time to 17 points on 5-for-12 shooting from the field. Overall, the Hornets did a substantially better job preventing the Thunder from getting easy baskets and transition chances that ignite the crowd in one of the NBA’s toughest places to play.