Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 89, Knicks 85

Friday, February 17, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (7-23), Knicks (15-16)

It was over when… Amar’e Stoudemire missed a three-pointer just before the final buzzer, bringing an end to New York’s headline-grabbing seven-game winning streak and sealing New Orleans’ third straight victory. Among the Hornets’ seven wins this season, this may have been the most entertaining and impressive, given the hype surrounding Jeremy Lin’s emergence and the spotlight of playing in Madison Square Garden. NOLA improved to 2-0 on its current six-game road stretch, with Oklahoma City next on Monday.

Hornets MVP: Trevor Ariza enjoyed one of his better moments in a Hornets uniform, producing numerous big plays on both ends of the floor. While logging 45 minutes of playing time, the small forward delivered 25 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks. He was also 4-for-7 from three-point range and 10-for-20 from the floor overall. He continues to play extremely hard night in and night out despite his huge workload, a fact that caused Monty Williams to say after Friday’s win that he may give Ariza the next two days off from practice.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: With the Hornets getting a rare two-day break from game action (something that’s only happened once previously in 2011-12), the starters played major minutes, meaning the subs saw limited duty. Among the backups, only Jarrett Jack made a noticeable impact, with four points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Two of his points were key free throws in the fourth quarter, when the Hornets were trying to keep the Knicks at bay. Due to injury, it was Jack’s first game since Feb. 8.

The buzz on… the shooting-guard position at the midway point. The plan for 2011-12 at the two spot was for Eric Gordon to start, be the team’s go-to scorer and take pressure off the team’s other first-stringers on offense. It was also planned that Marco Belinelli would come off the bench, a role he seemed to thrive in last season. Obviously that plan has been completely scrapped due to Gordon only appearing in two games this season and now facing a timetable in which his projected return could be late March. In his brief two-game sample, Gordon actually made a game-winning basket – in the season opener to boot – and averaged 21.0 points. There was nothing resembling enough time for him to get comfortable on his new team or develop chemistry with fellow backcourt starter Jack, but hopefully that will take place late in the season. Belinelli has been up and down while pressed into starting duty and is shooting below his career norms, but recently has caught fire and looked comfortable while paired with Greivis Vasquez. With 22 points at Milwaukee and 17 at New York, the 39 total points is the native of Italy’s best two-game scoring stretch so far in 2011-12. With Belinelli moving up to the starting lineup, Xavier Henry has filled the backup role at shooting guard. The second-year pro has been mistake-prone at times, but is shooting the ball better (albeit in a limited sample size) than he did as a rookie. He's at 44 percent from the field.