Hornets.com postgame: Grizzlies 93, Hornets 87

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Grizzlies (7-6), Hornets (3-11)

It was over when… Memphis' Rudy Gay picked off a Trey Johnson crosscourt pass with less than 10 seconds remaining and the Grizzlies up by six points. The Hornets trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, rallied all the way back into a tie, but could not take the lead en route to their fifth consecutive loss. New Orleans heads out tonight to Houston, where they will face the Rockets on Thursday.

Hornets MVP: Jarrett Jack topped the 20-point mark for the third straight game and generally took it upon his shoulders to try to will New Orleans to a come-from-behind victory – as he also attempted to do Monday vs. Portland. Jack tied his season high in scoring with 27 points, on 11-for-15 shooting. He was also 4-for-4 from three-point range, equaling the most treys he’s made in a single game of his NBA career.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Very slim pickings in this one, with the bench combining to shoot just 7-for-22 from the field. Gustavo Ayon finished with two points and four rebounds and was one of the few reserves who did not shoot poorly (but was just 1-for-2).

The buzz on… too many turnovers. When a team goes through a stretch of losing 11 times in 12 games, there is always more than one problem area that needs rectifying. But the Hornets generally seem in agreement that taking better care of the ball is priority No. 1 in their attempt to break out of a frustrating losing streak. Monty Williams spent the bulk of his postgame press conference addressing the turnover issue, after New Orleans coughed up a dozen of them in the second half vs. the Grizzlies. Williams: “Every time we get back to closing the deficit, we turn the ball over two or three times in a row. … We don’t have enough to overcome the turnovers. It’s not one or two guys. It’s everybody.” Case in point, nine different Hornets players had at least one turnover against Memphis. Added Jack, “I haven’t looked at the stat sheet, but I know we didn’t take care of the ball at crucial points of the game. It’s frustrating because we keep putting ourselves in position to win ballgames late, but we’re just not doing a good job of closing them… It gets frustrating when you focus on it, and it still bites you. We still had 18 turnovers. That’s when it’s like, ‘Come on guys. We’re better than this.’ "

Shootaround: Jan. 18 vs. Grizzlies

Notes from this morning’s shootaround at the New Orleans Arena:

• It is possible Trevor Ariza (groin strain) will be back in action tonight after missing the past eight games. Monty Williams: “That’s the hope. We’re just going to play it by ear and see what happens tonight. We’ll see how he feels tonight. We certainly don’t want to put him in a situation where he’s gassed tonight and risking another inury. Trevor’s always been durable, that’s why it was surprising when he went down. He’s always played big minutes and he’s always played a high number of games.” Indeed, over the past three regular seasons, the small forward has appeared in 82, 72 and 75 games, respectively.

• Asked how much the return of Ariza – and eventually Eric Gordon – could have on the Hornets, Williams said: “It will help out a ton, just having more experience out there. We’ve had DaJuan (Summers), Squeaky (Johnson) and Trey (Johnson) in situations they’ve never been in before. As a coach you want a guy to do well in that position and hope he can succeed, but at the same time, guys are not used to that. The hope is that we have more experience with Trevor and – Lord willing – we get Eric back soon.”

• Chris Kaman on Ariza’s return: “He’s going to be a big help for us. We’re getting our guys back healthy – that’s key for us. We’ve got some components that were missing. Nothing against any of the guys who have been playing, but it’s not the same when you have Eric Gordon playing, same as Trevor. We’ve obviously been struggling a little bit… we definitely have ground to make up. We’ve got to continue to fight every night. We play hard, but we’ve got to do a little bit more than that. We’ve got to focus on both ends of the floor and take care of the basketball.”

• Wednesday's game marks the return to New Orleans of forward Quincy Pondexter, who played his rookie season with the Hornets before being dealt on Christmas Eve. It's the second time the Hornets and Grizzlies have played in a five-day span. Greivis Vasquez and Xavier Henry are former Grizzlies, but Henry is still out due to an ankle injury.