Hornets.com postgame: Warriors 102, Hornets 89

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Warriors (25-29), Hornets (33-24)

It was over when… Golden State’s Charlie Bell drilled a three-pointer with seven-plus minutes remaining, giving the Warriors their first 20-point lead of the game Tuesday. It was a remarkable mid-game 35-point turnaround for the hosts, who had trailed 32-17 in the first quarter.

Hornets MVP: The ledger on Marco Belinelli since he was shifted to a bench role includes two outstanding games, sandwiched around two quiet outings. Like his debut as a Hornets reserve Feb. 9 at New Jersey, the fourth-year pro was excellent at Golden State, finishing with a team-best 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting. The native of Italy had 17 points against the Nets, with three- and two-point games against the Magic and Bulls.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Other than Belinelli, none of the backups stood out. Quincy Pondexter returned to action after missing games due to an ankle injury and eye infection, making a pair of baskets over nine minutes of playing time.

The buzz on… the continuation of a recent disturbing trend. By falling to Golden State on Tuesday, New Orleans has lost to four of the bottom six teams in the Western Conference over the past 18 days alone (Sacramento on Jan. 29, Phoenix on Jan. 30, Minnesota on Feb. 7 and Golden State on Feb. 15). In fact, over the course of the regular season, the Hornets are only 6-7 combined against that six-team group (which also includes Houston and the L.A. Clippers).

That’s more evidence for what Hornets players and coaches have been saying all season – that if New Orleans doesn’t bring its maximum effort and execution on a given night, it can lose to any NBA team. The Hornets’ talent on paper is not overwhelming, with several players who are trying to prove that they can handle an expanded role or show they belong on an NBA roster.

As a result, the outcomes of New Orleans games may be as difficult to project as any team in the league. Consider that on the positive side, the Hornets are also the only club to defeat the Spurs twice, swept Orlando 2-0 and are one of just four teams to win on Boston’s home floor.

No matter how you assess the pre-All-Star break portion of the Hornets’ season, however, the struggles against the lower-echelon group in the West may prove costly later. Conference record is the second tiebreaker against non-division foes (after head-to-head record), which could come into play for the Hornets against teams such as the Jazz, Trail Blazers and Suns. New Orleans is just 16-17 in conference games (but a stellar 17-7 vs. the East).

Blog question of the night: Other than the return to health of Emeka Okafor, what is the remedy for the Hornets to regain momentum after their recent slide?