Hornets.com postgame: Hawks 94, Hornets 72

Sunday, January 29, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hawks (15-6), Hornets (4-16)

It was over when… former New Orleans guard Willie Green launched a successful deep three-pointer at the end of the third quarter, giving Atlanta a 76-52 lead. Green added a bucket to start the fourth period, looking ultra-comfortable in the place he called home last season. The Hawks went on to hand the Hornets their biggest defeat of the 2011-12 season. NOLA’s previous largest margin of defeat was 16 points.

Hornets MVP: For a large chunk of Sunday night, Emeka Okafor was the only Hornets player whose performance could’ve been described as above average. With New Orleans struggling mightily to make shots from every spot on the floor other than the foul line (15-for-19), Okafor was a rare offensive bright spot. The 6-foot-10 center was the only NOLA player with more than seven points at halftime. He totaled 13 points and eight boards.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Hard to believe anyone could amass eight assists on a night when so few NOLA shots were finding the bottom of the net, but Greivis Vasquez somehow did it and scored 10 points to go along with it. The second-year point guard posted his career-best game in assists in a total of 26 minutes.

The buzz on… a failure to build off Friday’s impressive victory. As good as the Hornets were against the Magic, they were that bad for large stretches Sunday vs. the Hawks. NOLA had not trailed by more than 20 points at any stage of any game throughout the entire 2011-12 season, but fell behind by as many as 29 points to Atlanta in a frustrating game in numerous respects. Asked whether he was surprised by his team being so flat, Monty Williams responded, “Surprised? No, because I get a feel for our team (based on) the way we come out in the first quarter. I thought the effort in the first quarter was kind of there, but not really assertive the way it was (Friday). I thought we played desperate against Orlando. We came out tonight as if we could just show up. We’re in no position to do that, with the talent and experience we have on our team… I was really disappointed in our effort, especially at home.”

Shootaround: Jan. 29 vs. Hawks

Updates from Sunday morning’s shootaround in the New Orleans Arena:

• For the oh-so-brief timeframe of one game when the Hornets had more than 13 players available, Monty Williams actually had to choose a healthy inactive (which turned out to be guard Trey Johnson). For the foreseeable future, that will not be part of Williams’ game day preparations, because New Orleans is essentially back to just 12 potential active players. After Johnson was released, the roster dropped to 14, but with Eric Gordon out 3-6 weeks and Chris Kaman awaiting a trade, there are a dozen Hornets at Williams’ disposal.

• Asked whether the Hornets will try to replicate their enthusiasm and hustle of Friday’s 26-point win, Williams made an interesting point, saying, “You know the thing about winning and losing? We’ve had that (attitude) – we’ve just lost the game. Sometimes you lose a game and you forget the good stuff. We’ve done that; we just haven’t scored more points than the other team. That’s how we have to play. We don’t have that marquee guy who you can throw the ball to and say get me 25 points and make everyone else better. If we don’t play that way, it’s harder for us.”

• Williams attributed some of Carl Landry’s improved performance of late to him getting in a bit better shape. Due to the extended offseason, Williams believes the vast majority of NBA players were not in game shape when the regular season tipped off in late December. No matter how much conditioning a player does, there is no substitute for actual game competition – and not pickup games with nothing at stake. Williams added that Jarrett Jack was the most season-ready Hornet entering training camp. On a scale of 1 to 10, Williams rated the team's current shape as a 7, even though he believes his team is holding practice more often than most NBA squads.

• It’s a bit of a study in contrasts tonight, given that the Hawks’ core group has been together for four or five years, while the Hornets have only had about four or five weeks to gel. “You’re playing against experience,” Williams said. “They execute really well and they have so many guys who can play the same position.”