Hornets.com postgame: Thunder 95, Hornets 85

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Thunder (10-2), Hornets (3-7)

It was over when… James Harden controlled an offensive rebound for Oklahoma City with the Thunder up 93-85 and time ticking down under 40 seconds remaining. The Hornets dropped their fourth consecutive home game, after routing the Celtics here in the Hive opener on Dec. 28. New Orleans will try to reverse its recent fortunes on its home floor Friday when Minnesota comes to the Crescent City.

Hornets MVP: Chris Kaman tied for team honors in both points (17) and rebounds (9). The 7-footer played a major role in the Hornets only trailing by a point at halftime, dropping in 11 of his points prior to intermission. A starter for the past four games, Kaman has tallied 6, 10, 20 and tonight’s 17 points as a regular. Just as important, Carl Landry (17 points) has benefited from his move to the backup unit, performing more effectively than as a starter.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: DaJuan Summers was a New Orleans catalyst in the first half, scoring nine points (he finished with 10 on the game). In just his second game as a Hornet, the third-year pro sank jump shots and was active on the offensive boards, grabbing two caroms.

The buzz on… Hornets perimeter shooting woes. New Orleans entered Wednesday’s slate of NBA games ranked 23rd in the league out of 30 teams in three-point percentage (30.4). We’re deep enough into the season that team statistics usually don’t change much from game to game, but after a 1-for-16 outing vs. the Thunder, the Hornets dipped all the way to 27.5 percent. Among the four Hornets who’ve taken the largest number of treys this season, three are off to noticeably poor starts in comparison to what they’ve done previously in the NBA. Marco Belinelli (14-for-43 in 2011-12, 32.6 percent) is a career 39.9 percent three-point shooter, while Eric Gordon (1-for-12, 8.3 percent) is 37.1 career. Jarrett Jack (4-for-22, 18.2 percent) is at 34.8. Meanwhile, Greivis Vasquez (7-for-21, 33.3 percent) is slightly ahead of his career 29.8 rate.

Shootaround: Jan. 11 vs. Thunder

Notes from Wednesday morning’s shootaround in the New Orleans Arena:

• Among the many bright spots from Monday’s victory at Denver was a 21-point performance from Carl Landry, who came off the bench for a third straight game. He’s averaged 16.0 points since being shifted to the second unit. Williams: “I’m pleased with Carl. He’s starting to understand how important he can be for us defensively. His offense has never been the issue. I’m interested to see how he comes out tonight against these bigs, maybe the best big tandem in the league. His effort on the defensive end is going to be the thing that gets him to the next level.”

• Injuries and roster changes have led to several surprisingly large contributions from New Orleans players who were not at the tip of anyone’s tongues prior to the season. Referring to Hornets including Trey Johnson, Carldell Johnson, DaJuan Summers and Greivis Vasquez (acquired days before the Dec. 26 opener), Williams said, “(they are) all guys who weren’t in my thoughts before the season started. They’re just making the most of their opportunities. That’s what this league is about. They’ve got to keep playing. They don’t have a role in this league yet. They’ve got to continue to fight. Not one of those guys you named has established himself in the league.”

• Williams on the Thunder’s many strengths: “They have experience, they have young guys who aren’t (inexperienced). They’re talented. They just come at you in waves. There’s no drop-off when they bring their bench guys in. They have the best scorer in the league, the best sixth man in the league and maybe one of the most improved point guards. It’s a deadly combination. They have championship experience with (Kendrick) Perkins, hungry guys like (Serge) Ibaka. (Nick) Collison is probably one of the most underrated bigs in the league. They pose a number of problems. When you’re dealing with teams like that, you have to stick to your philosophies and make your adjustments on the fly, because (otherwise) you start thinking about too much stuff.”

• Jason Smith will miss his third straight game after a recent death in his family. Smith played in Friday’s home game vs. Denver before learning the news, then was not with the team on the two-game road trip. Monty Williams: “We told him to take all the time he needs (before returning).”