Hornets.com postgame: Pistons 89, Hornets 87

Saturday, February 4, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Pistons (6-20), Hornets (4-20)

It was over when… Trevor Ariza’s length of the floor drive and layup came just as the final buzzer sounded, good for two points but not quickly enough for the Hornets to extend the game after cutting it to 89-87. For the fourth time this season, New Orleans lost by a two-point margin. In another sign of the kind of (mis)fortune that has plagued the Hornets in 2011-12, none of their four victories have been close games, but they’ve lost every tight contest they’ve played. Saturday’s defeat was NOLA’s fifth consecutive defeat since a rout over Orlando on Jan. 29.

Hornets MVP: For much of Saturday evening, it looked like Ariza might surpass his career-best in scoring. The 6-foot-7 small forward, who was shooting 37 percent from the field entering Saturday, had 17 points at halftime and 22 through three quarters. His best offensive game in the NBA is 33 points as a member of the Houston Rockets in 2009. Ariza finished with 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field, along with 6-for-6 from the foul line. He also tallied seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, part of one of his best games as a Hornet.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Al-Farouq Aminu had one of his better games this season, coming up one point shy of his 2011-12 high by scoring 14 points. He did a nice job driving the ball to the basket, resulting in a 6-for-8 night from the foul line. Of his four field goals, three of them were on layups, a nice sign. He was 0-for-2 on treys and drained one deep jumper in the second quarter.

The buzz on… more injuries. By the time Saturday’s game was over, the Hornets were without the services of 1) their No. 1 point guard 2) their No. 1 shooting guard and projected leading scorer this season 3) the opening day starting power forward 4) the current starting power forward and 5) a backup center who played key minutes early in 2011-12. If you’re trying to keep up with all of this, those players are Jarrett Jack, Eric Gordon, Carl Landry, Jason Smith and Chris Kaman, respectively. That left Monty Williams with 10 players, a mix that included two point guards (Greivis Vasquez, Squeaky Johnson), two shooting guards (Marco Belinelli, Xavier Henry), three small forwards (Ariza, Aminu and – well, DaJuan Summers started at shooting guard again tonight), one power forward (Gustavo Ayon) and one center (Emeka Okafor). After the game, the latest update was that Landry has a left knee sprain, while Smith has a possible concussion – both were contacted by Detroit’s physical Jason Maxiell on separate plays. Injuries continue to play a far-too-big role in the frustrations of a team that is hungry for victories. We’ll know more on the status of Landry and Smith by Monday morning's shootaround, prior to a home game that day vs. Sacramento, if not sooner. The team had scheduled a practice for Sunday morning at the Alario Center; putting together a 5-on-5 game might be difficult.