Hornets.com postgame: Suns 93, Hornets 78

Friday, December 30, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Suns (1-2), Hornets (2-1)

It was over when… Marcin Gortat made a spinning, left-handed hook shot in the middle of the lane, putting Phoenix up by 14 points with 2:30 remaining. After trailing by as many as 18 points, the Hornets made a few brief runs in the fourth quarter, but never could get within striking distance of the Suns. New Orleans now heads to the West Coast to visit Sacramento on Sunday, followed by a Monday game at Utah.

Hornets MVP: Although the in-arena MVP honors went to Emeka Okafor (10 points, 16 rebounds), based on how porous New Orleans was offensively, give the nod to Carl Landry, whose 17 points were obviously greatly needed. In a rarity on this frustrating night, Landry also did not have a horrific shooting game, though his 6-for-16 was nothing to write home about. The other four Hornets starters went a combined 13-for-50 (26 percent) from the field.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Jason Smith was a rare bright spot off the bench, again delivering hustle plays and some scoring punch. Smith finished with eight points and five rebounds in 17 minutes of action, continuing to show no hesitation when open for mid-range and deep jumpers.

The buzz on… one of the worst shooting nights in franchise history. And that’s no exaggeration – there is ample data to prove it. The Hornets shot 28.9 percent from the field against the Suns, the lowest single-game effort in the team’s 24-year existence. Close followers of the Hornets who remember the eyesore that was NOLA’s defeat in Philadelphia last season may find it hard to believe that their team could have a poorer game than that one. But in that 88-70 loss to the 76ers, the Hornets crept over the 30 percent mark at 30.4. Of the 11 New Orleans players who attempted at least one shot from the field Friday, not one even made half of their tries. Although it was easy to overlook because the Hornets started the season 2-0, they were basically average on offense in those victories, shooting 44.3 and 45.6 percent, respectively.

Shootaround: Dec. 30 vs. Suns

Notes from Friday’s shootaround in the New Orleans Arena:

• Eric Gordon told reporters he will not play against Phoenix, saying he’s disappointed but that he is hopeful to be back on the court soon. “It’s nothing that is that serious where I’m going to be out for a long period of time, but we’re just being cautious. It’s frustrating. I’m not a guy who likes to sit and watch the team play, but I think we’re doing a good thing (by being careful). Hopefully it will work out for me and the team.” In more evidence that Gordon’s injury is not a severe one, the shooting guard added that “(if this were the) playoffs, it would be different.”

• Rookie forward Gustavo Ayon has been cleared to practice and play, meaning he could make his official NBA debut soon. Ayon was listed as inactive in the first two games and was ineligible to play. Incidentally, with 15 total players on the roster, New Orleans always must list two inactives until early February. Gordon and DaJuan Summers are sidelined due to injury right now, while the other 13 players are all available.

• Monty Williams on a few areas the Hornets need to improve against the Suns relative to Monday’s game in Phoenix: “(The Suns) dominated us on the boards early. They picked us apart in pick-and-rolls early. They had 14 fast-break points – that’s too high.”