Hornets.com postgame: Bobcats 73, Hornets 71

Monday, March 12, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Bobcats (6-34), Hornets (10-32)

It was over when… Charlotte rookie Bismack Biyombo made an incredible game-saving block of a Trevor Ariza dunk attempt, resulting in a loose ball that went to Chris Kaman, who could not power up for a shot just before the buzzer. The Bobcats mobbed Biyombo, who preserved his team’s third road victory of the season. The Hornets trailed by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but nearly rallied all the way back to force overtime. Instead, they dropped the first of three home games this week.

Hornets MVP: It’s indicative of the kind of night it was for New Orleans that Kaman received the in-arena MVP award despite going 6-for-19 from the field (the Hornets shot 38.5 percent as a team). However, the 7-foot center did contribute 12 points and 16 rebounds. In another good news-bad news example, Jarrett Jack had 15 points and nine assists, but committed six turnovers.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Al-Farouq Aminu was a rare bright spot, injecting energy into a Hornets club that was in dire need of a spark. The second-year forward continued his uptick in play lately with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting. During the Hornets’ comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, Aminu scored six points, part of a 16-12 edge for the hosts.

The buzz on… playing to the level of the competition. As Monty Williams put it during Monday morning’s shootaround, given their record, the Hornets are in no position to view any opponent as a favorable one. However, one difficult aspect of the 2011-12 season has been New Orleans’ tendency to put together better performances against higher-caliber clubs, while not always doing so vs. struggling foes. Monday’s loss was perhaps Exhibit A. Of the Hornets’ 10 victories this season, none have come against a team that isn’t at least in playoff contention. In fact, of the 10 victims, the worst record is Cleveland’s 16-23. The Cavaliers were only one game out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference entering Monday’s action. New Orleans has victories over Orlando, Denver, Dallas, Boston and New York, teams that all appear frequently on national TV. Another persistent problem has been an inability to protect home court. The Hornets only have four home wins all season, including just two since late January. After Monday’s defeat, Williams sounded frustrated, but tempered his words because he did not want to react to the loss based on emotion. “There’s ton of (emotions),” Williams said. “For me to verbalize them wouldn’t be fair to our players. You lose a game like that, you tend to say things that you probably need to evaluate before you say them. … I’d rather watch the film and evaluate it (later).”

Shootaround: March 12 vs. Bobcats

Updates from this morning’s shootaround in the New Orleans Arena:

• It’s been a little while since we’ve delved into the injury front, so let’s start there. The Hornets are again expected to have 10 players available on Monday night, with the same four players sidelined (Eric Gordon, Carl Landry, Emeka Okafor, Jason Smith) as in recent games. Monty Williams addressed the latest on the latter three players: “I think (Landry) is close (to returning). Just watching his workouts and listening to (trainer Jon Ishop), I think Carl is closer than I thought he would be. I’m guessing – and I stress the word guess – that he’ll be back this week. … Emeka is getting more tests done and he’s talking to different doctors. … Jason is progressing. He’s starting to take shots, and that was a big thing for him. He’s progressing to the point where he’s not having the (concussion) symptoms anymore.” Williams added that Okafor has experienced some swelling in his knee, causing Okafor to try to get more information on the injury. “Until they can figure out why there is swelling, Ishop and (the team’s training staff) want to hold him out,” Williams said.

• Williams was asked about Thursday’s trade deadline, which could mean more roster changes on a team that has constantly been in flux this season. The second-year coach said he’s been too busy preparing for games to be preoccupied by potential trades, though he checks in with GM Dell Demps periodically. Williams: “I talked to Dell late last night briefly, but it’s just not my focus. I’ve gotten used to change. But I’m not the only coach in the league going through (changes). I talked to Coach (Rick) Adelman the other night, and he’s dealing with losing his starting point guard for the rest of the season."

• Williams on Gustavo Ayon facing fellow Mexico native Eduardo Najera for the first time in the NBA on Monday night. Williams: “I understand the importance of the global impact that the NBA is having. Gustavo is a great ambassador for his country. He represents his country well. I have a lot of respect for the way he handles his business. To have he and Najera playing against each other says a lot about the grassroots programs in Mexico. I look forward to having more Ayons and Najeras in the future.”