It was over when the Hornets committed a turnover with 23 seconds remaining, trailing 90-84. The Trail Blazers inbounded to Jamal Crawford, a great foul shooter who sank a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach. It was another frustrating defeat for New Orleans, its eighth consecutive loss. The final two minutes were particularly difficult to accept, because after cutting the deficit to two points, the hosts committed a pair of unnecessary fouls that allowed Portland to keep NOLA at arms length.
Hornets MVP: With a group of reporters waiting for him in the locker room, Trevor Ariza took a deep breath, an exhale that appeared to signify his frustration not with the media, but with the teams ongoing tough times. Ariza did everything he could to try to stop the losing streak, finishing with 23 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals, but it wasnt enough. The small forward staked NOLA to a 46-42 halftime advantage by scoring 15 points, almost exclusively on aggressive drives to the rim.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Overall, Al-Farouq Aminu had one of his best games of the season, an encouraging performance that included 12 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Four of his boards came at the offensive end, where he had a dunk and two putback scores in the first half. He also drilled a timely three-pointer that cut NOLAs deficit to 86-84 with 48 seconds remaining. However, he fouled Raymond Felton seconds later, leading Felton to drill a pair of free throws and make it a two-possession game. The Hornets didnt score again until Marco Belinellis layup with 17 ticks left.
The buzz on
second-half woes. If you've watched every game this season, this won't come as a surprise, but the Hornets are now a stunning 1-13 in games decided by single digits, with so many games coming down to the fourth quarter or the final few minutes. Despite having the NBAs second-worst record, entering Fridays games New Orleans was 24th out of 30 teams in the league in scoring differential, at minus 6.1 points per game. There are six teams behind the Hornets in that category, including Toronto, New Jersey, Sacramento, Detroit, Washington and Charlotte. The Raptors, Nets, Kings and Pistons all have at least twice as many wins as the Hornets. If it seems like the third quarter is particularly problematic for New Orleans, thats probably because it has been. According to teamrankings.com, the third quarter is by far the worst period for the Hornets, at an average of minus 4.3 points per game. That ranks last in the NBA. The Hornets are the 24th-best club in the fourth quarter, while ranking 19th in the first quarter and 18th in the second.