Hornets.com postgame: Nets 103, Hornets 101 (OT)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Nets (16-37), Hornets (32-22)

It was over when... Chris Paul's three-point attempt from the left wing went halfway down before rimming out at the end of overtime, tantalizingly close to what would've been a one-point Hornets victory. Instead, New Orleans lost its fourth straight game, the longest losing spell of the season for the Hornets.

Hornets MVP: David West delivered one of his best statistical games of 2010-11. With 32 points and 15 rebounds, it was the two-time All-Star’s first 30-15 combination of this season. Those statistics were impressive, but what caught your eye perhaps even more in Wednesday’s box score was the 52:29 that signified West’s playing time. He only sat out 31 seconds of the game, which was 53 minutes in duration due to the five-minute overtime period.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Marco Belinelli started in each of his first 51 appearances of the season, but came off the bench Wednesday for the first time. The native of Italy thrived in his brand-new role, going 5-for-7 from three-point range. He totaled 17 points in 24 minutes of action, knocking down several key shots after intermission.

The buzz on… a reconfigured rotation. If you hadn’t watched the Hornets play all season but went to Wednesday’s game in New Jersey, you would’ve had absolutely no indication of the roles various players have filled to this point in 2010-11.

Seldom used early in the regular season, Aaron Gray was the starting center against the Nets. Sasha Pavlovic, who wasn’t on an NBA roster a week ago, started at small forward. A combination of injuries and ineffectiveness led Williams to shake up his lineup, including moving Belinelli to the bench and inserting Willie Green at first-string shooting guard. Green was making just his third start of the season.

That’s not all. West played almost the entire 53-minute game. Paul logged 51 minutes. Gray played 40 minutes, the most he’s ever received as a Hornet. On the other side of the ledger, Jason Smith, Marcus Thornton and David Andersen all played about six minutes, while D.J. Mbenga made a brief 31-second cameo. Williams essentially used seven players for 24 minutes or more, with four others getting spot duty.

It will bear close watching to see how Williams distributes minutes over the final four games prior to the All-Star break, which include no easy games on paper. The Hornets face quality Eastern Conference clubs Orlando and Chicago back-to-back, before traveling to two difficult venues next week, Golden State and Portland.

Blog question of the night: How much of the four-game losing streak do you attribute to Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza being sidelined with injuries?