Hornets.com postgame: Grizzlies 111, Hornets 89

Sunday, April 10, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Grizzlies (46-34), Hornets (46-34)

It was over when… Shane Battier drained a three-pointer from the right corner, forcing New Orleans to call timeout and giving Memphis a 95-70 lead with 8:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Hornets could have guaranteed themselves a better seed than the Grizzlies by winning, but now the standings battle between the Southwest Division counterparts is going to come down to the final three days of the season.

Hornets MVP: Marco Belinelli tied a single-quarter season-high for any Hornets player in 2010-11 by racking up 16 points in the opening period, sparking the visitors to a quick eight-point lead. By the end of the quarter, however, Memphis had pulled into a 30-all tie. Belinelli added just two more points to his game tally for a team-best 18 points.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Jason Smith continues to turn in some quality work off the bench, this time scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds in 19 minutes of playing time. He’s been accurate shooting mid-range jumpers of late, finishing 4-for-6 on Sunday.

The buzz on… the race for seeding in the Western Conference. By losing Sunday, New Orleans added even more uncertainty to the question of what seed it will attain in the first round of the playoffs. In order to move up to No. 6 now, the Hornets (46-34) need to win one more game than the Trail Blazers (47-33) over those teams’ final two contests. NOLA is back in action Monday vs. Utah, then travels to Dallas on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Portland is home Tuesday vs. Memphis and visits Golden State on Wednesday.

Memphis wraps up the schedule at Portland on Tuesday and at the Clippers on Wednesday. Although the Grizzlies moved into a tie with the Hornets tonight, Memphis still needs help in other games, because it must surpass NOLA in the standings in order to overcome the Hornets’ tiebreaking advantage.

Let’s look at what could happen in the three different remaining scenarios revolving specifically around the Hornets’ close to the season:
- If the Hornets go 2-0, they will finish as either the No. 6 or No. 7 seed and cannot finish No. 8. Moving up to No. 6 would be dependent on the Trail Blazers losing at least once in their back-to-back games Tuesday/Wednesday.

- If the Hornets go 1-1, they can still finish at No. 6, but the only way it could happen is if the Trail Blazers go 0-2 and the Grizzlies go 1-1 (with Memphis winning only in its game at Portland). A 1-1 record could also yield a No. 7 or No. 8 seed, but the latter would only take place if the Grizzlies went 2-0 and the Trail Blazers went 1-1.

- If the Hornets go 0-2, they will finish either No. 7 or No. 8. In that scenario, the only way they’d finish No. 7 is if the Grizzlies also went 0-2.

Blog question of the night: What is your prediction for where the Hornets will finish in the Western Conference seeding race? Who will be their first-round opponent?