Hornets.com postgame: Spurs 104, Hornets 102

Monday, January 23, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Spurs (11-7), Hornets (3-14)

It was over when… Carl Landry’s desperation 28-footer fell short of the basket, allowing San Antonio to prevail with a narrow victory and hand New Orleans its eighth consecutive loss. Improbably, the Hornets have lost their last three games by two points apiece, a frustrating run that was embodied by Trevor Ariza being prone on the floor at game’s end tonight for several seconds. As is the team's custom (usually during the game), inactive guard Trey Johnson raced across the court to help up Ariza.

Hornets MVP: As one newspaper reporter aptly put it in the postgame locker room, Jarrett Jack is playing some of the best basketball of his career right now. The point guard threatened a triple-double with 26 points, six rebounds and nine assists, while going a solid 12-for-22 from the field. Asked whether he takes any solace in his individual performance despite the losses, Jack responded: “All I want, regardless if it’s by one point, two point, 17 points, is for it to materialize in a victory. Obviously all the hard work you do in the summer and staying late after practice is to help yourself individually, but we want it to transfer over to success in the team platform.”

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Landry was on the attack in the paint once again, this time producing 18 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes. He proved to be a very difficult matchup for San Antonio’s frontcourt defenders, who as a group are taller than Landry but don’t have the footspeed to consistently stop Landry from getting to the rim off the dribble. As a result, Landry made nine trips to the foul line and connected on eight free throws.

The buzz on… three straight gut-wrenching defeats. Over the past five days, the Hornets have lost in overtime at Houston after going up by five points in the extra period; fallen by two to the defending champion Mavericks; and lost again by two to the four-time champion Spurs. The question is, does constantly losing nail-biters result in teamwide frustration, or is the fact that New Orleans always seems to have a chance to win a positive omen? The most accurate answer may be “both.” Said Jack of the numerous narrow losses: “It’s extremely frustrating. The good part is we gave ourselves a chance, and that’s all you can really ask for in this league. It just comes down to making plays. There were a couple I was kicking myself about that I wasn’t able to make.” Meanwhile, Jason Smith shook his head in dismay at the team’s seemingly horrible luck of late, but believes New Orleans is showing clear signs of improvement. “We’re closing the gap,” Smith said. “We’re learning how to play with each other, we’re learning what other (teammates) are doing. We’re getting that chemistry. We’ve only been together for a little over a month now, and we’ve got a lot of new guys. That’s tough for any team. That team over there (the Spurs), they’ve been through that (late-game) scenario hundreds of times and countless NBA Finals games. It’s experience. But I think we played great. We went out there and fought tonight. We’ve got to keep on doing what we’re doing. We’re getting better. It used to be (losing by) maybe 10 points, then it was five to seven, now it’s two. It’s one play. We have to keep on fighting. And I think we have a team to do that.”

Shootaround: Jan. 23 vs. Spurs

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

• The Hornets are awaiting word on Eric Gordon’s status, but there is a chance Xavier Henry could play as soon as tonight’s game vs. San Antonio. “We’ll see how he feels today (after shootaround),” Monty Williams said. “But he could see some minutes tonight.”

• Williams on monitoring Gordon’s injury status: “We’re finding out some stuff. We may not know (additional information) until later on this week. He’s still getting more testing done to make sure the diagnosis is correct. We won’t have any more information until probably Thursday or Friday.” Asked what the reasons behind the examinations were, Williams said “he’s getting more testing because he is such a young player, and he’s such an important part of our future. We don’t want to gamble on something and come up wrong later.”

• Williams spent a year in the Spurs organization after he retired from playing in the NBA, but he doesn’t believe that gives him any particular advantage heading into Monday’s Southwest Division matchup. Williams: “I know a lot about that team, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to work out the way you want it to. We try to prepare as best we can. At the same time, I’m coaching against one of the best coaches in the history of the game. He hides some things when he plays against us, and probably has a few tricks up his sleeve tonight. You can’t scout against that.”

• Jarrett Jack on the player he’ll face tonight, Spurs leading scorer Tony Parker: “There’s never a night off in this league at point guard. Obviously we know what Tony Parker brings to the table. He’s a Finals MVP, multiple-time All-Star, one of those guards who likes to get into the teeth of the defense. Individually you want to do your best, but it’s a team thing. We have to do our best to corral him.”