Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 96, Jazz 85

Friday, April 13, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (17-42), Jazz (31-29)

It was over when… Eric Gordon finished off a string of great individual plays in the fourth quarter by drilling a deep two-point jumper over Gordon Hayward, bringing the New Orleans crowd to its feet and providing a 94-82 lead with 2:09 remaining. The Hornets held on for a nice win on a memorable day for the franchise, hours after learning that Saints owner Tom Benson had purchased the team. On the flip side, Utah was dealt a costly loss in its pursuit of a Western Conference playoff berth. It was the Jazz’s second loss in the Crescent City this season.

Hornets MVP: Gordon put on a show for part of the final period, finishing with 10 points in the quarter en route to 25 points overall. New Orleans improved to 4-2 in the six games the shooting guard has played this season, with none of those victories coming against lower-echelon foes. “That gives you a great insight into what he can do,” Jason Smith said of Gordon’s late scoring outburst. “He’s an amazing player. We missed his presence. He’s a big part of our team. When you have someone like that who can score at will, you don’t even have to run a play for him. You just get out of his way.”

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: It was a quietly solid night for the bench, with no player scoring more than seven points, but overall the group had 22 points on 9-for-19 shooting. Xavier Henry picked up the in-arena award with six points in 12 minutes. He also had three rebounds, an assist and a steal.

The buzz on… a franchise gaining some long-awaited permanency. Given how many times it appeared as though the Hornets were on the verge of getting a new owner over the last few months, Friday was a bit of a surreal day for the players. The Hornets were told after their morning shootaround that Benson was buying the club. “We’re happy that we have an owner,” Smith said. “We’re happy that we’re going to stay in New Orleans. That’s basically the entire focus. It’s very nice. With Mr. Benson coming in, that’s a great job on his part to try to keep this team in New Orleans. It’s very commendable.” In a description many hopeful local fans could relate to, Smith explained that there had been several “false alarms” in which players believed a Hornets owner was forthcoming, only to see it not take place. “That’s the whole thing that’s been going on all year,” Smith said. “(People have said to us), ‘Oh you guys got an owner (who is coming in) the next couple weeks. Well, we’ve been waiting for the next couple weeks for months and months and months. Now hopefully everything will get done in writing. These are the greatest fans in New Orleans, and this is a great atmosphere to play in.”

Shootaround: April 13 vs. Jazz

Updates from today’s shootaround in the New Orleans Arena:

• The first question asked of Hornets coach Monty Williams this morning regarded the potential sale of the team. As has been his custom during a season of distractions and injuries, Williams responded that his focus is on preparing for Friday’s game and trying to defeat Utah. “I have nothing to say (because) I haven’t heard any official statement,” Williams said. “All I’ve heard is a lot of stuff for the past three or four months – actually, a lot longer than that. My concern is getting ready for the Jazz tonight. Until I hear something official – or someone comes to me face-to-face and tells me what’s happening – there is nothing for me to say.”

• In a follow-up question on whether it will be a sigh of relief for the Hornets to have a long-term owner, Williams said, “Obviously. That’s an easy one. If for no one else, the city of New Orleans, to be able to say OK (it’s completed).”

• Asked what he hopes his team shows fans in the third-to-last home game of 2011-12, the second-year coach said, “The same thing we’ve shown them all year long, that we compete, we play hard, play to win. We want to make our fans proud. We take our jobs seriously. We feel like we are privileged to be in this position. We have a few more games at home. We want to make sure we go out playing our best basketball.”

• Eric Gordon (back) is a game-time decision, while Emeka Okafor and Chris Johnson are both listed as out. Jarrett Jack is out for the season.