Hornets (20-43), Rockets (32-31)
It was over when
Eric Gordon drained two free throws with 12 seconds remaining in overtime, giving the Hornets a three-possession advantage. After a nip-and-tuck second half, New Orleans dominated the extra period, scoring 12 of the first 15 points. The result was a memorable victory in the final home game of the 2011-12 regular season. For Houston, a sixth straight loss put its playoff hopes in serious peril. New Orleans won six home games during the month of April, more than doubling that total to 11 on the season.
Hornets MVP: Gordon put together a methodical 27-point game, scoring 12 points in the first half, 10 in the second half and five more in overtime. It was the kind of steady offensive performance that was so sorely lacking in the vast majority of the 55 games the shooting guard missed this season. With the victory, New Orleans improved to 6-2 with the fourth-year pro on the floor, but has gone just 14-41 without him. We have a good group of guys here, Gordon said. A good young core. Like Ive told everybody, the future is bright here. I think I can help any team. If Im here, Im definitely going to look forward to helping this organization win games.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: There arent many players in the NBA who can put up 20 and 10 off the bench and youre not at all surprised, but thats one reason why Carl Landry has been such a valuable performer throughout his pro career. The power forward only had two points at the half, but delivered seven points in both the fourth quarter and overtime to finish with 20 points along with 10 rebounds. Landry and fellow reserve Gustavo Ayon worked well together in the paint, with Ayon often feeding Landry for a point-blank opportunity.
The buzz on
shooting guard. The obvious plan for Gordon to carry the Hornets offense all season had to be scrapped due to his lengthy absence with a knee injury, but the best part of this recent stretch is that New Orleans has not looked at all like a bottom-feeder when hes in uniform. Its a small sample of just eight games, but Gordon has averaged 21.0 points and appears to be the difference between non-stop narrow losses to more talented opponents (a persistent theme throughout much of 2011-12) and wins over quality foes. Itd be one thing if the Hornets were beating the dregs of the NBA lately, but thats not the case. Marco Belinelli was supposed to be the backup to Gordon, but hes instead started 53 times in 63 appearances. He started the campaign shooting below his career norms, but as the year progressed hes often played extremely well. Gordon is a restricted free agent, while Belinelli is an unrestricted free agent, meaning theres no guarantee either player will be a Hornet next season, but the Hornets have complete say-so on Gordons future. Belinelli can sign with any NBA team in the offseason. Hes been a Monty Williams favorite, but Belinelli has been reluctant to discuss his future, saying hed prefer to wait until the 66-game season has concluded. Xavier Henry also could be part of the future equation at the 2, but appears to be more suited for small forward, particularly with him having much more success on offense around the basket than on jumpers.