Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 93, Mavericks 92

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

Hornets (38-29), Mavericks (46-18)

It was over when… Dirk Nowitzki’s off-balance jumper bounded off the rim at the buzzer, sealing a stunning, incredible final-minute comeback by New Orleans. The Hornets erased a seven-point deficit with a combination of clutch plays and Mavericks mistakes, capped by Jarrett Jack’s three free throws to put the hosts in front. I don't know if this was the best win of the 2010-11 season, but it had to be the most dramatic and improbable.

Hornets MVP: On a night when it was often a major struggle to generate offense, Marco Belinelli provided a much-needed spark, finishing with 21 points. The Italian shooting guard gave the Hornets a chance to come back in the final minute when he drilled a difficult three-pointer with 50 seconds remaining. Jarrett Jack also deserved significant credit for his 21-point, seven-assist, six-rebound game, including the go-ahead trio of free throws in the clutch.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: You’d never know that Carl Landry is still getting acclimated to the team after being acquired two weeks ago. The backup power forward – who has already established himself as the best reserve big NOLA’s had in recent memory – went 7-for-9 from the floor and tallied 15 points before fouling out.

The buzz on… one of the best late-game rallies you’ll ever see in the NBA. When you consider all of the factors, with the Hornets trailing by seven points and less than a minute to go, it would’ve been a big surprise for them to even have a chance to force overtime, let alone win it in regulation. Dallas is one of the better foul shooting teams in the league, ranking ninth in percentage entering Wednesday’s game. The Mavericks also rank ninth in the NBA in fewest turnovers committed. Still, they coughed up possession on a bad Dirk Nowitzki pass with 30 seconds left, then watched Tyson Chandler misfire on two free throws with 18 seconds remaining.

The Hornets capitalized with three consecutive possessions that included a pair of three-point trips and an Emeka Okafor putback to go on their 8-0 run, an unlikely sequence of events, to say the least.

“Finally the ball bounced our way,” said Willie Green of the scenario. “In the last six to eight games, it’s been a little shaky. But tonight was different. There were plenty of times when things didn't go our way and we could've put our heads down, but we never did.

Blog question of the night: When the Hornets trailed by seven points with under a minute to play Wednesday, did you turn off your TV or head for the parking lot of the New Orleans Arena? If you did, you missed one of the reasons why people love sports.

Paul will not play vs. Mavs, return date uncertain

For a second straight game, Jarrett Jack will receive the starting nod at point guard on Wednesday, when New Orleans (37-29) hosts Dallas (46-17) in a Southwest Division matchup. Chris Paul (concussion) has been ruled out of Wednesday’s game while being monitored by doctors. Paul’s only participation in Wednesday morning’s shootaround consisted of riding a stationary bike and observing the walkthrough.

“It’s up to the doctors,” Monty Williams said of Paul’s potential return after being injured in Sunday’s win at Cleveland. “He feels good, and he’s progressing the way that they want him to, but it’s not something you want to mess around with.” Asked whether the NBA or individual teams should adopt an NFL-like policy that governs the return to action of recently concussed players, Williams said: “I don’t want to speak for the league, but I don’t think we’ve had enough (players with concussions) to know. We don’t have the same contact as football players have. I’m pretty sure that if guys keep having them and have to sit out games, there is going to be a policy in place.” Williams added that Paul’s condition will be observed daily by physicians, to determine when the four-time All-Star might be able to return.

In other news from today’s New Orleans Arena shootaround:
- Small forward Trevor Ariza (groin) said he’ll try to play Wednesday against the Mavericks, but it will be a game-time decision. Ariza: "I'm going to try to give it a go." Quincy Pondexter has started the past three games in Ariza’s place, playing well on defense but struggling a bit offensively (3-for-13 from field). The rookie has averaged 23.0 minutes in the three starts.

- Early Wednesday morning, the Hornets signed 6-foot-3 point guard Jerel McNeal from Rio Grande Valley of the D-League. “We needed bodies,” Williams explained of the move. “It’s a tough time (of the season) to throw somebody into a game, but if we need someone, he’s there.” It’s uncertain whether McNeal will play in Wednesday’s game. Although New Orleans is now officially at the maximum of 15 players, one of them (Marcus Banks) is not with the team, while Paul, Ariza and D.J. Mbenga have been sidelined lately, leaving the Hornets with just 10 players prior to McNeal’s signing.