Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 95, Blazers 91

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (43-32), Blazers (43-32)

It was over when… Carl Landry sank two free throws to give New Orleans a four-point lead with nine seconds remaining. With no timeouts left, Portland rushed the ball into the frontcourt but missed a three-pointer. The Hornets moved into sixth place in the Western Conference with the victory, while also earning a 3-1 season-series victory over the Blazers. That could become a critical tiebreaking edge when the regular season concludes April 13. In addition, Houston's loss at Philadelphia combined to reduce NOLA's magic number to clinch a playoff berth to just 3.

Hornets MVP: Through three games as a starter since David West’s season-ending knee injury, Carl Landry is averaging 21.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, scoring at least 19 points in each game. Landry finished Wednesday’s key victory with 21 points and six rebounds. Typical of his NBA career, Landry made 10 trips to the foul line and drained seven, including six tries in the fourth quarter. He’s been one of the league’s most effective crunch-time scorers over the past couple seasons, something that has already come in handy with New Orleans playing so many close games recently.

“I’ve been a fan of Carl Landry since he came into the league,” Chris Paul said. “He’s a starter and we were fortunate to have a starter coming off the bench (prior to David West’s injury). The more minutes that he’s getting is just giving him time to do his thing. We’re going to need that in the playoffs.”

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Willie Green’s momentous fourth quarter consisted of 10 points, highlighted by a resounding follow-up dunk that had the New Orleans Arena crowd humming for a minute or so after the play. A smiling Chris Paul said of the 29-year-old Green’s slam, “the old man can still get up!”

Monty Williams on Green’s role during a 27-21 fourth period for the Hornets: “During that run Willie Green was phenomenal, the dunk he had and the floater against their zone really changed their zone.”

Several Hornets players, including Paul and Jarrett Jack, said they might watch ESPN’s SportsCenter later in the evening because their older teammate’s slam should be ranked No. 1 on the Top 10 Plays list.

“The ball came off the rim just right and I was able to catch it and dunk it,” Green described. “It felt good, but it was just two points.” Although he tried to downplay the big play, he was later asked if a highlight such as that can be worth more than two points in the way it revs up a home crowd. “It can be a momentum swing,” he agreed. “That’s what happened. I’m not trying to make it bigger than it is. At the end of the day I’m going to laugh about it with my teammates and it felt good to get up there, but it was two points we needed.”

The buzz on… Patrick Ewing Jr.’s Hornets debut. The 10-day contract signee’s stint of 1 minute, 37 seconds didn’t consist of many memorable moments – except to Ewing, who entered an official NBA game for the first time. The 6-foot-8 forward, son of Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing, said he uncharacteristically bit on a pump fake by Portland’s Gerald Wallace during his time on the floor.

“I was really excited when I got to go into the game,” a grinning Ewing said. “I was so antsy that I jumped on (Gerald) Wallace’s pump fake. Normally, I wouldn’t do that, but that’s how excited I was.”

Ewing was so focused on his first impression that he didn’t notice the extremely loud chant of “Pat-rick Ew-ing! Pat-rick Ew-ing!” that came from the raucous Bee-Zanies section in the stands nearby.

“I was kind of focused,” Ewing said, smiling. “But it’s always great to have the support of the fans. Ever since I got here to New Orleans, I’ve gotten nothing but love from the fans.”

Ewing had spent the 2008 and 2010 preseasons with the New York Knicks and was in the D-League when he was called up to the NBA by the Hornets. He said he was thrilled to be able to check into such an important game.

“Coach showed confidence in me by letting me go out there and play,” the 26-year-old said. “It’s been a tough road (to get to the NBA), but it’s all worth it at the end of the day. For it to happen the way it did, I wouldn’t change it. It’s helped me a lot. To be in the middle of a playoff battle, it’s great. It’s a big game, a big win. Everyone that gets called up (from the D-League) doesn’t get that opportunity.”

Incidentally, Ewing has worn uniform No. 33 at various points of his basketball career (the same number as his dad), but that was impossible in New Orleans since Willie Green already had it. However, the younger Ewing had been sporting No. 22 in the D-League and planned to keep that in New Orleans. He wears No. 22 partly as a nod to his tight friendship with Jeff Green, a former Georgetown teammate of Ewing’s who is currently a Boston Celtics reserve and wore No. 22 with Oklahoma City.

Blog question of the night: The Hornets’ remaining schedule is vs. Memphis, vs. Indiana, vs. Houston, vs. Phoenix, at Memphis, vs. Utah and at Dallas. The Blazers’ docket is vs. OKC, vs. Dallas, vs. Golden State, at Utah, vs. Lakers, vs. Memphis, at Golden State. Even at 43-32 now, which team will finish with a better record?