Hornets.com postgame: Wolves 87, Hornets 80

Friday, January 13, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Timberwolves (4-7), Hornets (3-8)

It was over when… Kevin Love made one of two free throws with 29 seconds left, giving Minnesota a three-possession advantage at 85-78. The Timberwolves won for just the second time on the road this season, while handing the Hornets their fifth straight home defeat. New Orleans heads out tonight for the second game of a back-to-back set, visiting Memphis on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Hornets MVP: Marco Belinelli has somewhat been in an every-other-game shooting stretch. This time he followed up a 3-for-10 (0-for-5 on treys) game vs. the Thunder with a team-best 20 points. Belinelli finished 8-for-14 from the field against the Timberwolves, as well as 3-for-7 from three-point range. Emeka Okafor also could’ve easily earned game honors with his 16-point, 14-rebound outing.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Gustavo Ayon continues to make a case for more playing time, contributing seven points, four rebounds, one block and one steal in 13 minutes of action. Ayon only logged 41 seconds through three quarters, but was on the floor for the entire fourth period and provided a valuable spark.

The buzz on… DaJuan Summers’ first start as a Hornet. After missing the majority of training camp and the first eight games of the regular season, it only took Summers two games to convince Monty Williams that the small forward should play more. About 90 minutes before Friday’s game, Williams announced to reporters that Summers would be moving into the starting lineup. Summers responded with an 11-point game in 27 minutes of action, which may have been more if he hadn’t fouled out in the fourth quarter. The third-year pro has appeared to be brimming with confidence since the first moment he stepped on the floor Monday in Denver, something he attributes partly to two years of experience with the Detroit Pistons. “This is my third year in the league, so I’m not new to it,” he said. “I’m highly confident in myself. I know I can make shots. I made shots my whole life. I’m just trying to make the open ones, and picking and choosing my spots.”

Shootaround: Jan. 13 vs. Timberwolves

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

• Jason Smith has returned to the team after a three-game absence that was due to a death in his family. Smith thanked reporters and various team personnel for sharing their condolences this morning. Meanwhile, Eric Gordon is not currently with the team due to a death in Gordon’s family.

• DaJuan Summers has been very productive in his first two Hornets appearances, including coming off a 10-point, five-rebound, two-assist performance vs. Oklahoma City, in just 19 minutes. If you’re watching from home tonight, tune in to the Cox Sports TV pregame show for a Summers interview with Bob Licht.

• Much of the game-related discussion was on the Hornets’ potential approach to trying to slow down Minnesota All-Star forward Kevin Love, off to a monster start with averages of 23.6 points and 14.7 rebounds. Monty Williams: “You want to keep a body on him at all times and contest his shots all the way out to three-point land. You’ve got to make him work on the (defensive) end. He’s got to guard. You have to post him up and put him in positions where he has to play some defense. He’s an elite player. You have to respect him as such.” Williams added that Carl Landry, Smith and Emeka Okafor are the most likely to be assigned Love on defense.

• Williams on Timberwolves rookie point guard Ricky Rubio: “He’s an NBA player. His feel for the game is probably two steps ahead of the guys he’s playing with. Because he throws the ball where he thinks you’re going to be. That to me is a sign of a guy who thinks the game. His shot looks better than people give him credit (for). He’s got long arms, he defends.”

• Asked whether he is planning to make any lineup changes, Williams smiled and said if there were any, they would be a “surprise.”