Hornets.com postgame: Blazers 99, Hornets 93

Thursday, March 29, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Blazers (24-27), Hornets (13-38)

It was over when… the Hornets committed a crucial turnover with about 45 seconds remaining, down 97-90. LaMarcus Aldridge then drained a jumper to give Portland a 99-90 edge, capping an 8-0 run that vaulted the Trail Blazers to a home victory. It was a close margin throughout virtually the entire game, including New Orleans holding a 54-51 lead at halftime. The Hornets, now 1-2 on this five-game road trip, head to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Saturday afternoon.

Hornets MVP: Marco Belinelli was superb, setting an NBA career high with seven three-pointers among his team-best 27 points (that tied his career best from 2008). On a night when the Hornets only had eight players available and two recent big offensive weapons were sidelined (Jarrett Jack and Chris Kaman), they needed a big game from the native of Italy, who delivered. Belinelli was consistent through the game, scoring 14 points in the first half and 13 after intermission. He also split his treys almost evenly, with four in the opening half. Carl Landry also turned in an excellent performance, finishing with 24 points.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Not much to choose from on a night when the shorthanded Hornets really could’ve used someone coming through off the bench. Xavier Henry struggled from the field (1-for-7) and Lance Thomas was in foul trouble. Chris Johnson had a decent two-point, three-rebound game in just nine minutes.

The buzz on… eight players available for the first time all season. The Hornets have had more than a handful of instances where nine players were on hand at Monty Williams’ disposal, but Thursday was an unfortunate first. Jack (ankle) was ruled out of action relatively late in the day, moving Greivis Vasquez (14 points, 6 assists) into the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Kaman remained sidelined due to an illness, which meant Williams maintained his previous-night frontcourt of Al-Farouq Aminu, Landry and Jason Smith. Under the circumstances, it was a reasonably well-played game by New Orleans, but not quite enough to prevail against a team that traditionally is tough to beat in the Rose Garden. As a result of the extreme shorthanded roster, Belinelli and Vasquez played 45 and 43 minutes, not exactly the ideal scenario less than 24 hours after the win at Golden State. Williams essentially had no choice, with Henry the only backcourt player available off the bench. During the 4:39 when Vasquez was not on the floor, Belinelli was forced into duty as the nominal point guard.