Hornets (8-1), Mavericks (7-2)
It was over when
Emeka Okafors desperation three-point attempt from the right wing misfired, after the Hornets had inbounded down 98-95 with only seven-tenths of a second remaining. Dallas used a 29-19 fourth-quarter edge to rally back and hand New Orleans a heartbreaking defeat, the Hornets first of 2010-11.
Hornets MVP: Two games ago, Peja Stojakovic was on the inactive list, but hes now put together two straight extremely valuable performances. The veteran small forward tallied 17 points at Dallas despite only taking eight shots, including going 4-for-6 on treys. Stojakovic bagged two early trifectas in the fourth quarter, helping NOLA remain in front at the outset of the period. I was more than ready to give this award to Chris Paul when his offensive fireworks in the first half almost singlehandedly powered New Orleans into a lead, but Pauls fourth personal foul cut greatly into his impact late in the game. Paul finished with 22 points, all in the first three quarters.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Willie Green had a mere three points through three quarters, but leave it to a guy who has frequently been relied on in crunch time to save his biggest plays for the final stanza. Green drilled a 25-footer from straightaway against the shot clock to save one early fourth-quarter possession for the Hornets. He later added a difficult baseline 12-footer for a key basket. All told, the former Philadelphia 76er had eight of his 11 points in whats been his favorite quarter this season.
The buzz on
New Orleans three-point shooting. Four different Hornets made multiple treys tonight (Stojakovic 4, Green 3, Paul 2, Trevor Ariza 2), a list that doesnt even include other viable perimeter threats Marco Belinelli and Jerryd Bayless. The Hornets have been trying to surround Paul with competent shooters over the duration of Pauls six years in the league, but this may be the best complement hes had to work with. The Hornets seem to always have at least two quality shooters on the floor, which helps spread the floor and give David West and Emeka Okafor more room to operate in the post and on the boards. New Orleans finished 11-for-25 from beyond the arc in the game, despite missing a handful of open and uncontested looks.
Blog question of the night: It was only Nov. 15, but the Hornets and Mavericks played a game that resembled playoff intensity at times in Dallas. It was a spirited game with shades of the heated 2008 Western Conference first-round matchup between the two clubs. A couple years ago, New Orleans appeared to be building a few noteworthy rivalries against foes like Dallas and San Antonio, but the momentum cooled a bit with the Hornets missing the playoffs in 2010. In your opinion, which team do you consider to now be New Orleans biggest rival?