Hornets.com postgame: Kings 100, Hornets 92

Monday, February 6, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Kings (9-15), Hornets (4-21)

It was over when… DeMarcus Cousins dropped in a close-range shot to give Sacramento a 98-88 lead with 48 seconds remaining. The Kings rallied from a 78-69 deficit after three quarters and were down by as many as 18 points in the first half. New Orleans has lost in a variety of ways in recent weeks, but the scenario of being up semi-comfortably then getting dominated in the fourth period was a relatively new one. Sacramento enjoyed a 31-14 advantage over the final 12 minutes.

Hornets MVP: Greivis Vasquez equaled his career-high in scoring with 20 points, the second time in as many home games that he finished with that total. He also logged a career-best 40 minutes and was excellent in the shooting category, at 6-for-9 from the field and 7-for-8 from the foul line. He also handed out nine assists, three shy of the most he’s had in a game (also set in the previous home game vs. Phoenix).

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Chris Kaman didn’t look like he hadn’t played in two weeks, producing 10 points and 12 rebounds in just 22 minutes of action. It was Kaman’s first appearance since Jan. 23 against San Antonio. Xavier Henry also enjoyed his best game as a Hornet, contributing eight points and two rebounds in 10 minutes.

The buzz on… Lance Thomas’ Hornets debut, part II. The Hornets acted quickly following Saturday’s roller derby-esque loss at Detroit. After power forwards Carl Landry (knee) and Jason Smith (concussion) sustained injuries that will keep both out for at least a week, New Orleans informed Thomas, also a power forward, in the wee hours of Sunday morning to get to the Crescent City. Thomas was playing for the D-League’s Austin Toros, who played a road game in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday night and then traveled back to Texas, arriving in the Lone Star State around 1 a.m. Sunday. Thomas heard the news of his call-up “around 2 or 2:30.” Unlike some D-League players signed to 10-day contracts, the Duke product has what appears to be a relatively clear path to minutes, as the backup 4 on a team that only had 10 players available Monday. Landry will be out 3-4 weeks, while Smith is being held out of physical activity for at least a week due to the concussion. In other words, Thomas will have a chance to prove himself in games – not just on the Alario Center practice floor. He grabbed four rebounds (three offensive) in 10 minutes against Sacramento. “The coaches know that I play with a lot of energy,” Thomas said of his third overall game with the Hornets this season. “When I’m out there on the floor, they expect nothing less.” Thomas initially made the roster in training camp and appeared in two early-season games for the Hornets before being waived.

Shootaround: Feb. 6 vs. Kings

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

• Let’s get right to the injury news, with the Hornets facing another shorthanded situation entering Monday’s game against Sacramento. According to Hornets head coach Monty Williams, Jason Smith (concussion) will not play tonight, while Jarrett Jack is “probably out tonight” as well, needing more rest for his sore knee. Combined with the absence of Eric Gordon (knee) and Carl Landry (knee), the Hornets are down to 11 available players.

• The 11th player, rookie power forward Lance Thomas, was added to the roster today to help provide New Orleans with much-needed frontcourt depth. Thomas appeared in two early-season games for the Hornets before being released. “He was in training camp with us and kind of understands what we do, brings energy,” Williams said of the Duke University product.

• Chris Kaman has been reactivated. The 7-foot center has not played since the Jan. 23 home defeat to San Antonio.

• Add it all up, and the team’s roster availability for Monday is expected to be as follows: point guards (Greivis Vasquez, Squeaky Johnson); shooting guards (DaJuan Summers, Marco Belinelli, Xavier Henry); small forwards (Trevor Ariza, Al-Farouq Aminu); power forwards (Gustavo Ayon, Thomas); centers (Emeka Okafor, Kaman). Williams generally does not disclose changes to his starting lineup the morning of games, but with Smith out, there will be a new starting power forward.