Hornets.com postgame: Kings 99, Hornets 98

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Kings (13-26), Hornets (9-30)

It was over when... Trevor Ariza’s turnaround fadeaway 15-footer jumper at the buzzer over Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans came up short off the front rim, sealing the Kings’ dramatic one-point victory. The Hornets will rue their previous possession. Leading 98-97 with 10 seconds remaining, Ariza couldn’t connect with Marco Belinelli on an inbound pass to the deep backcourt, resulting in a steal by Isaiah Thomas and go-ahead layup by John Salmons with 6.8 ticks to go. New Orleans has struggled in close games throughout 2011-12, but this may have been its most bitter defeat.

Hornets MVP: Chris Kaman came finished with a career-high eight assists and approached what would’ve been his first NBA triple-double. The 7-footer was pressed into serious duty as a result of the most recent NOLA frontcourt injury (Gustavo Ayon, sore left foot) and Solomon Jones being in foul trouble Wednesday. Kaman played all but 2:01 of the 48 possible minutes, registering 18 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and the eight assists.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Lance Thomas was the only reserve on the floor during crunch time, after a solid effort consisting of eight points (3-for-3 shooting from field) and four rebounds. In yet another example of Hornets players needing to be ready when called upon, Thomas played 27 minutes due partly to Jones’ foul trouble and ineffective play in his 11 minutes. Jones had played very well in recent games, but his first start was a rough outing from the get-go.

The buzz on… late-game execution proving extremely costly. On what turned out to be the most critical play of the night, the Hornets turned an inbound pass into a Kings layup at the other end. Normally teams don’t pass in the opposite direction of their basket in that situation, but it’s become somewhat common since the NBA changed the traditional rule, making it legal to cross the halfcourt line on late-game out-of-bounds plays. Just about any other type of turnover would’ve been preferable to what happened, because Sacramento gained a fast-break opportunity instead of at least having to call timeout and set up a play. On the Hornets’ final possession, whether it was by design or not, the Kings allowed Kaman to catch an inbound pass at the left wing of the three-point arc. That obviously wasn’t ideal for the Hornets, because Kaman is a 7-foot center not accustomed to beating someone off the dribble. Kaman quickly handed off to Ariza, but Ariza was backing up when he caught the pass because he was trying to shake off the quicker Evans. For a split second it looked like Ariza may not even be able to beat the buzzer, but he managed to squeeze off an attempt with about six-tenths of a second left.