Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 93, Magic 67

Friday, January 27, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (4-15), Magic (12-7)

It was over when… Carl Landry threw down a follow-up dunk with 6:40 remaining, giving New Orleans an 82-56 lead. On a night when there were smiles all around for the first time in weeks, the Hornets rolled to a therapeutic victory over a quality opponent, ending a nine-game losing streak. It was NOLA’s first victory on its home floor since beating Boston in the Hive opener on Dec. 28.

Hornets MVP: Jarrett Jack (11 points, five rebounds, nine assists) got the in-arena MVBee award for his stellar all-around game, but I thought Jason Smith was a bit more instrumental in setting the tone for an aggressive Hornets performance. Smith finished with 14 points and was 7-for-9 from the field, while showing emotion after several big plays. Asked about his intent to fire up the 16,176 fans in attendance, Smith slightly disagreed, saying “The crowd was firing us up. They were amazing. They’ve been great with us. We need to give them more wins. We need to come out and play hard like we’ve done. They deserve to see a great game, and I think they did tonight.”

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Since a brief stretch in which his playing time dipped, Landry has been a force, registering double-digit points for four straight games. He tallied 17 points against the Magic, scoring on numerous point-blank attempts despite often being surrounded by defenders. Landry was 8-for-13 from the field and grabbed six rebounds in 25 minutes. His four offensive boards spearheaded NOLA to a 12-4 edge in that category.

The buzz on… where the Hornets go from here. There is a palpable feeling in the locker room that the team has been making encouraging progress over the past week or so, leading to a string of narrow defeats and Friday’s blowout win over a quality Orlando club. It’s now imperative that the Hornets build on that improvement, instead of backsliding to their play of a couple weeks ago. That should make Sunday’s home game vs. Atlanta an interesting test case. “I definitely think we’re heading toward the right direction,” Trevor Ariza said. “Even though we haven’t been winning, there were a lot of positive things that we have taken away from those losses. Hopefully this one tonight will get us started and get us going. We don’t have anything to lose right now. We’re playing that way. Tonight was a good night and everything was working for us, including our defense.” Added Smith: “We’re starting to gel. We’re starting to learn what each other does on the floor. We’ve been playing great the last few games; we just haven’t come up with wins. Tonight we played the same way we’ve been playing, and played together.”

Shootaround: Jan. 27 vs. Magic

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

• The Hornets’ frontcourt rotation has been shuffled quite a bit over the last handful of games, with the minutes of Carl Landry and Gustavo Ayon mostly increasing, while those of Chris Kaman (inactive at Oklahoma City) have steadily decreased. Asked how he would dole out minutes Friday vs. Orlando, Monty Williams was coy, saying “we’re going to play the guys who play hard.” One Hornet whose minutes have steadied somewhat is Jason Smith, in the 20s for four of the past five games. Emeka Okafor’s time on the floor also has hovered mostly around the high 20s, with a few exceptions.

• On Ayon, Williams gave this assessment: “He’s understanding the league and how people are going to play him. I thought he was too unselfish the other day (at OKC). He gets a three-second (violation) when he could’ve just shot the ball, but he’s so unselfish he’s looking for his teammates. I don’t want to get happy on the farm with him, because I think that puts undue pressure on him. He might be playing too many minutes, because I think certain guys have a shelf life in the league. When you play as hard as he does, sooner or later you’re going to reach that point where you’re just exhausted. If you leave him out there too long, you start seeing too many warts.”

• Asked what drastic measures he might consider to end the nine-game losing streak, Williams jokingly responded, “I’ll suit up. I’ve got six fouls." Turning serious, he said, "I don’t think you go to drastic measures. I think you just continue to pound the rock, because it’s going to help us in the future.”

• Orlando coughed up a 27-point lead last night at home vs. Boston. As is the custom in the NBA, teams playing the second game of a back-to-back do not hold a shootaround, so the Magic were not in the building this morning. Most visiting teams walk into the arena bowl just minutes after the Hornets leave the playing floor on game days.