NBA Summer League: Hornets 79, Cavaliers 78

Saturday, July 19, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

If you’d seen the reaction of New Orleans players and coaches when the final buzzer sounded Saturday in Las Vegas, you never would’ve thought you were watching a summer league game. A split-second before the fourth-quarter horn, reserve Larry Owens dropped in a five-foot putback off a Julian Wright close-range miss, giving the Hornets a one-point comeback victory over the Cavaliers. Owens was swarmed by several celebrating teammates after the game-winning bucket.

“I know it’s only summer league, but when you get a chance to do something like that, it’s pretty exciting,” described the Oral Roberts alum of the play. “I would say it’s one of the highlights of my career so far, (partly) because you know a lot of people are watching these games.”

Owens’ buzzer-beater provided New Orleans with its fourth straight win in Las Vegas, including three comebacks from a halftime deficit. Behind a 10-point fourth quarter from Owens – who was scoreless through three periods – and a couple clutch hoops by Bobby Brown, New Orleans again was at its best with the game on the line.

“We’ve outscored most teams in the fourth quarter,” Hornets summer league head coach Charlie Parker said. “That’s important, because it shows our conditioning. It shows our concentration and effort. We’ve been able to control the fourth quarters here.”

The Hornets close their stay in Las Vegas on Sunday with a game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Tip-off is 7 p.m. Central time. It will be televised nationally by NBA TV, the lone New Orleans summer league game the network is airing.

Other notes from Las Vegas:

• New Orleans’ four victories in Las Vegas are the most the Hornets have ever compiled during summer competition. Last year, the team went 0-5. “We come here to win, not just to get guys experience,” Parker said. “We’ve been able to win games and get guys moving quickly on that learning curve, so it’s been a good week.”

• Brown tied for team scoring honors with 15 points and was credited with four assists, but the operative word on the latter stat was “credited.” It seemed like there were multiple plays in which assists were not given to players on either team by the stat crew; New Orleans only totaled eight assists in the official box score out of 34 field goals, which is nearly impossible unless you have everyone playing one-on-one offense all night. That clearly was not the case.

• Former Timberwolves first-round pick Ndudi Ebi turned in what was easily his finest performance, scoring 15 points in 14 minutes. Ebi ran the floor very well, scoring three times on fast breaks. The Houston-area native scored seven points in the fourth quarter.

• Hornets veterans Hilton Armstrong and Julian Wright finished with 12 points and 11 points, respectively, but also were responsible for a handful of highlight-reel plays. Armstrong had a resounding dunk early when he pump-faked and threw down a hard one-hand slam over Cleveland’s Robert Traylor, a former Hornet. Meanwhile, Wright had a pair of dunks that might’ve had a decent chance of ending up on SportsCenter had this game been televised.