Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 110, Rockets 105 (OT)

Friday, January 14, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (24-16), Rockets (17-23)

It was over when... Chris Paul intercepted a Houston inbounds pass and dropped in a layup with 0.4 seconds remaining in overtime, sealing a comeback victory. New Orleans trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but used a 14-0 run to get back in it. For a second straight game, the Hornets prevailed in overtime.

Hornets MVP: Jarrett Jack enjoyed his best game since coming to the Hornets in November, delivering 23 points and seven assists in 37 minutes. Jack also canned a pair of clutch free throws with 3.7 seconds remaining in OT, putting New Orleans up by three points.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game:Jason Smith joined Jack in contributing a valuable bench performance for the Hornets. Smith totaled six points and four rebounds over 15 minutes, including a nice follow-up dunk in the first half. The 7-footer was also part of the team’s key 14-0 second-half run, a big reason why Smith finished the game with a plus-minus of +12. Jack was at +20.

The buzz on… another gritty comeback road win. After a few close losses earlier in the regular season, Paul said that as a point guard, he takes it personally when New Orleans loses a close game, because he believes it’s his job to make the right decisions in crunch time. In no small part due to Paul’s presence, the Hornets have been outstanding in one- or two-possession games over the past six seasons, something they’ve returned to recently.

There have been several instances over the past few weeks in which New Orleans’ overall experience (seven players have been in the NBA five-plus years) has paid big dividends, in particular during the wins at Boston and Houston. In both cases, the home team put together a huge second-half run that could’ve been a back-breaking one for the Hornets, but they showed significant poise in the fourth quarter.

“We showed some resiliency, showed some fight and showed some other things I can’t even pronounce,” Jack half-jokingly commented after Friday’s win. “That’s the mark of our team. We take on the personality of our coach. We’re just grinding out victories.”

Williams: “Down the stretch, we made a ton of plays. We put ourselves in a hole in the third quarter. We had some guys playing hurt tonight. (Emeka Okafor is) rolling around on his foot, Chris (Paul) sprained his ankle, (David) West has a sore ankle, but we found ways to make plays.”

“We thought in the third quarter that they put us on our heels,” West said of the Rockets. “We fought and closed the quarter well. Ultimately we made the game close enough to steal one on someone else’s floor.”

Blog question of the night: Willie Green has been the team’s most consistent reserve this season. For the first time in 2010-11, Green started in place of Marco Belinelli, who missed Friday’s game with an ankle injury. What mid-term grade do you give the former 76er, a first-year member of the Hornets?