Hornets.com postgame: Rockets 90, Hornets 88 (OT)

Thursday, January 19, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Rockets (8-7), Hornets (3-12)

It was over when… Marco Belinelli’s 20-foot jumper at the overtime buzzer bounced out, allowing Houston to hold on for a win after the hosts had trailed by five points early in the extra period. The Hornets led 88-83 but were outscored 7-0 to close the game, capped by Samuel Dalembert’s follow-up dunk on a Rockets fast break. New Orleans dropped its sixth consecutive game, this time falling in heartbreaking fashion. The Hornets continue their "mini-tour" of the entire Southwest Division on Saturday and Monday with home games against Dallas and San Antonio, respectively. They lost to Memphis on Wednesday.

Hornets MVP: In his third consecutive start at power forward, Jason Smith scored 17 points and nearly willed New Orleans to a comeback victory in the fourth quarter. Smith had an athletic dunk, key mid-range jumper and crucial tip-in during the final period, and also drained a perimeter shot in overtime. Jarrett Jack (15 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists) was also stellar, but had a small blemish when he missed a free throw late in regulation that kept it tied at 82.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Greivis Vasquez had two baskets, including a fast-break layup, to help spark the Hornets to a 19-7 edge in the fourth quarter that erased what had been a 75-63 deficit. Vasquez added three defensive boards and four assists in just 16 minutes of action.

The buzz on… not enough offensive production. Talk all you want about the Hornets’ inability to contain hot-shooting Kevin Martin in Thursday’s first half, or the slow transition defense on Dalembert’s momentous putback slam in OT, but the bottom line is you can’t expect to win many games in the NBA by generating only 82 points in regulation. Now 15 games into the regular season, New Orleans has yet to reach 100 points on any occasion, creating an extremely small margin for error in other categories. Entering Thursday’s light three-game slate of NBA action, the Hornets ranked eighth out of 30 teams in points allowed – but were 28th in scoring at 86.7 points per game. New Orleans’ average point differential of minus-5.2 is significantly better than that of six other teams, but only Washington has fewer wins than NOLA. What does that all mean? The Hornets are losing relatively close games on a regular basis in part because their defense is good enough to keep them in the hunt, but they’ve lacked the offensive punch to turn what-coulda-been losses into nip-and-tuck wins.