Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 88, Grizzlies 75

Sunday, April 15, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (18-42), Grizzlies (35-25)

It was over when… Al-Farouq Aminu threw down an athletic dunk with about 1:45 remaining, giving New Orleans an 86-72 lead. The Hornets went on to upset the Grizzlies and finish 4-1 on their five-game homestand, playing the role of spoiler against playoff contenders Minnesota, Utah and Memphis. The Hornets also improved to 5-2 this season with Eric Gordon in the lineup, more evidence that this team may not have finished near the bottom of the standings with a healthy squad. New Orleans heads to the road for games at Charlotte and Memphis over the next three days.

Hornets MVP: Sometimes one of the best gauges of a player’s ability takes place when he doesn’t appear to have a great game, but you look at his stats afterward and it’s still an impressive line. It didn’t seem like Gordon was particularly dominant Sunday, but by the end of the night he had scored a team-best 18 points on only nine field-goal attempts. The key to his efficient performance was an 8-for-8 effort on free throws. The fourth-year shooting guard was aggressive taking the ball to the rim, again showing his knack for getting into the lane and drawing fouls. Asked whether he wonders what a healthy Hornets team may have been capable of, Gordon said, “Of course. I say that myself. I look forward to helping this team. That’s all I’m here to do. (The recent winning) shows that we’re making progress. The future is bright. It’s always good with a lot of young guys to beat playoff teams. That’s what we’ve been doing.”

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Carl Landry was a force in the paint, scoring all 18 of his points in the second through fourth quarters. Like with Gordon, the Grizzlies struggled to keep Landry from scoring around the basket. The power forward scored five of his six baskets from near the hoop, with only a mid-range jumper coming from outside point-blank range. He also pulled down 11 rebounds, tying his season high.

The buzz on… a special pregame meeting. Prior to Sunday’s Southwest Division game, new Hornets owner Tom Benson met with his basketball players for the first time. As Jason Smith put it simply, “it feels great to have an actual owner.” Smith said Benson was joined by Saints executives and management during their greeting. “We met his entire staff,” Smith described. “(Benson) was saying he loves to win, and has the mindset of winning. He was very nice. He introduced himself and was looking forward to things to come.” Meanwhile, Gordon addressed how the recent development will affect his offseason, where he’ll become a restricted free agent. Gordon sounded a bit like a man participating in the basketball version of a job interview. “The Hornets have all my rights,” Gordon said of being a restricted free agent. “He has to know that I have a winning mentality. At the end of the day, it’s his decision whether he wants to keep me or not. If you ask anyone on this team, I get along with everybody, the coaching staff and teammates. I’m just here to win. That’s it.”