Hornets.com postgame: Mavericks 96, Hornets 81

Saturday, January 7, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Mavericks (4-5), Hornets (2-6)

It was over when… Dallas extended its lead to 91-75 with 3:02 remaining, on a three-point possession. The Mavericks drained three straight free throws, including one after a rare technical foul whistled on Monty Williams for arguing. Although the Hornets held 2011 NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki (2-for-11 shooting, 10 points) mostly in check, turnovers again ruined NOLA’s chances. The Hornets coughed up 21 turnovers en route to their sixth consecutive defeat.

Hornets MVP: On a night when multiple players received their biggest opportunity of the season to contribute, Al-Farouq Aminu paced the Hornets with a career-high 12 rebounds, to go with a team-best 15 points. With no other small forward healthy, you knew Aminu would log significant playing time, so it was encouraging to see him capitalize on his 44 minutes. The second-year pro also delivered a few eye-opening passing and finishing plays.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Carldell “Squeaky” Johnson had yet to score an official basket entering Saturday, with his lone point coming off a free throw, but showed much more of his offensive skills against the Mavericks. Johnson went 3-for-4 from the three-point arc, accounting for all of his nine points in 17 minutes.

The buzz on… Gustavo Ayon’s first substantial chance to play. With Jason Smith unavailable due to a death in Smith’s family, Ayon figured to be a more prominent part of the mix. He played seven minutes in the second quarter, scoring his first NBA points while also grabbing two rebounds. It wasn’t a long enough look to make many detailed judgments, but the native of Mexico showed some nice signs. Ayon appears to be quick off his feet under the boards – which he demonstrated on his two defensive rebounds. He scored a layup after a nice up-fake that cleared him room to get off his shot. Ayon also showed some of his court sense when he fed Aminu with an accurate baseline bounce pass out to the three-point arc.