Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 92, Wizards 81

January 1, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

It was over when... Marco Belinelli drained back-to-back three pointers, extending New Orleans’ lead from 84-77 to 90-77 with 2:35 remaining. The Hornets went on to record two straight road victories for the first time since Nov. 3 and 6 (at Houston, at Milwaukee).Belinelli had been just 1-for-5 from the field prior to his back-breaking treys.

Hornets MVP: It was somewhat of a toss-up between Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, but given Ariza’s recent offensive slump, let’s go with the 6-foot-8 small forward. Ariza finished with 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting, including 2-for-6 from three-point range. He was also a defensive catalyst, coming up with five steals. Ariza produced the highlight of the game, throwing down a vicious slam over Washington center JaVale McGee in the fourth quarter.

“He was everywhere,” Okafor said of Ariza. “He was hitting big buckets, making great steals and was really key in our comeback and as we pulled away for the win.”

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Jarrett Jack was an integral part of the Hornets building a more comfortable margin early in the fourth quarter. The backup point guard totaled 12 points, including a savvy pump fake that led to a Wizards foul and three Jack free throws. An outstanding foul shooter throughout his six-year NBA career, Jack sank six shots from the line on seven attempts.

The buzz on… Trevor Ariza’s impact. By virtually any statistical measurement, Ariza is off to the worst start of his career offensively, with subpar field-goal and three-point percentages. Still, in Friday’s game at Boston, his size and agility forced Ray Allen into a difficult, contested three-point attempt in the waning seconds that bounced off the rim, preserving a huge victory. He broke out at the offensive end Saturday, while maintaining his defensive contributions individually and team-wise. Hopefully Saturday’s 22-point output was a sign of things to come from Ariza, who is a career 43.4 and 31.0 percent field-goal and three-point shooter. He was at 36.7 and 25.2 this season in those stats entering Saturday’s game.

Blog question of the night: The Hornets’ bench has gone through a down stretch over the past several games. What will be the key for the second unit to return to the consistency it displayed early in the regular season?