New Orleans has struggled mightily on the road so far this season, with just two wins both against sub-.500 opponents. A victory tonight wouldve been a nice step in the right direction, and the first against a high-caliber foe. Ultimately though, the Hornets instead had to settle for several encouraging developments and a narrow defeat in Dallas.
The Hornets (10-13) quickly fell behind by 21 points, then rallied all the way back into a tie, but couldnt overtake the Mavericks (18-7) late in the game. Jason Terry, who missed two critical free throws on Nov. 4 in New Orleans to set the stage for a Hornets OT win, this time connected on his charity tosses in the clutch. Terrys two free throws with 12 seconds remaining gave Dallas its 94-90 advantage.
I think it speaks to the talent of Dallas and the success rates that they have here in this building, particularly in the first quarter, Hornets coach Jeff Bower said of the Mavericks fast start. I wasnt totally stunned that (the Mavericks) came out big. I was just trying to find the right combination to give us a little spark to try to cut the lead back down.
Dallas is too good a team to put yourself that far behind and come out successfully. We battled and were pleased with the way we played in the second, third and fourth quarters, but it was a lot to overcome to offset that first quarter.
Other news from tonights four-point loss, which dropped the Hornets to 1-2 in Southwest Division games:
Darius Songaila has been Mr. Fourth Quarter in several games lately, but tonight was the best example of his excellence in that period all season. Songaila did not play at all through the first three quarters, but tallied 12 points over the final 12 minutes. Songaila spearheaded the Hornets 39-20 advantage in bench scoring against a Mavericks club highly-regarded for its depth.
Julian Wright entered on a string of four consecutive DNPs due to coachs decision, but got into the game early in the second quarter and produced several positive plays. He scored four points, including a highlight-reel dunk off a feed from Chris Paul. The Hornets were plus-13 with the third-year forward on the floor.