Hornets.com postgame: Bobcats 104, Hornets 103

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

For the 79th game of a season in which the Hornets are now playing primarily for pride, this one was filled with plot twists. Ultimately, a guy from New Orleans made the biggest shot of the game, sending Charlotte’s current NBA franchise into the playoffs for the first time ever, with a dramatic win over the team that used to call Charlotte home.

D.J. Augustin’s three-pointer enabled the Bobcats to avert what would’ve been the biggest comeback in Hornets franchise history. Augustin, who graduated from New Orleans’ Brother Martin High School, drilled the trey to put Charlotte in front 102-100. New Orleans (35-44) had trailed by as many as 26 points in the first half.

Through the first half, it appeared as though the Hornets were about to follow up Saturday’s embarrassing performance at New Jersey with another discouraging showing. The Bobcats raced to a huge early lead and were up 60-38 at halftime. New Orleans’ third quarter was one of its best of the entire season though, with the Hornets outscoring the Bobcats by a 40-19 margin. The rookies again willed the Hornets out of the doldrums with big third periods – Darren Collison piled up 12 of his points in the stanza, while the uber-aggressive Marcus Thornton added eight points.

Other developments:

• Jeff Bower was ejected from the game in the second quarter after voicing his displeasure over the officiating. Bower’s two rapid technical fouls came after a play in which Charlotte appeared to make contact with David West as West attempted two close-range shots. “I didn’t like the way the game was being officiated, and I thought that was having an impact,” Bower said matter-of-factly. “I didn’t think they were having a very good night.”

• Thornton’s 36-point game, one point shy of a career-best, was highlighted by a vicious dunk over Bobcats All-Star forward Gerald Wallace. Thornton ranked it the second-best dunk of his rookie NBA season, behind only a slam he had in the recent game at Memphis last week. “In this league, if you go up weak, (defenders) will come out of nowhere and block it,” Thornton said. “So the best thing to do is go up there and make sure it goes in. That’s what I did.”

Hornets Head Coach Jeff Bower:

On him being ejected: “There were some fouls that weren’t being called that was putting us at a disadvantage. I thought that was having an impact on the game. I let my opinion be known.”
On the game: “Our whole attack changed in the 2nd half, once we started getting back to what we were doing in the 1st quarter. We moved the ball very well when the game first started, we stopped doing that in the 2nd quarter. The 2nd half was outstanding. We were using the coverage to our advantage and made some great shots. We had such a large margin to come back from, we almost needed to play perfect for the rest of the game. Charlotte got the stop when D.J. Augustin hit that big shot. I will give him credit for that; that was a good shot. Tonight we played hard and well, we didn’t do that last game against New Jersey.”

Hornets Guard Darren Collison:
On the second half: “We came out with a lot more intensity. We wanted it more and it showed. We were lackadaisical and they were getting pretty much anything they wanted. When we picked up the intensity we had a lot of easy transition points, but in the end, unfortunately, we came up short.
On the last play: “We were just trying to get an easy basket, either me or David West. The ball was in my hand and I tried to make an aggressive play to the basket and I came up short.”

Hornets Forward David West:
On the game: “I thought our energy was good enough, got us back up six or seven. We just had a couple plays were we had turnovers late and didn’t get what we wanted. I thought we did a good job fighting and staying competitive.”

Paul to miss rest of season

New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul will miss the remainder of the season due to a ligament tear in his right middle finger. No surgery is required for the injury. The timetable for his return to basketball activities is approximately seven weeks.

“It has been a very difficult season for me in terms of injuries,” said Paul. “I hate not being out on the court helping my team, but the best thing for me to do is to get completely healthy. I am hopeful to be back playing basketball by June.”