Hornets.com postgame: Pacers 115, Hornets 107, OT (11/21/12)

by Jim Eichenhofer

Hornets.com postgame: Pacers 115, Hornets 107 (OT)

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Pacers (6-7), Hornets (3-7)

It was over when…Tyler Hansbrough sank two free throws with 18 seconds remaining in overtime, giving Indiana a three-possession advantage at 115-107. The Pacers outscored the Hornets 18-10 in the extra period, while holding the visitors to just two baskets. It was New Orleans’ fifth consecutive loss. The Hornets were significantly outplayed by the Thunder and Knicks during this losing skid, but stood toe-to-toe against the Pacers on Wednesday for 48 minutes. NOLA led by seven points with roughly four minutes remaining in regulation, before several clutch shots by Indiana. Hornets small forward Al-Farouq Aminu forced OT with a baseline jumper that lofted so high it seemingly scraped the Pacers’ 2000 Eastern Conference championship banner in the rafters.

Hornets MVP: A difficult call, because several players turned in stellar games statistically. All three members of the Hornets starting frontcourt tallied either a double-double or came close to it. But let's give a slight edge to backup big Jason Smith for game honors. The 7-footer joined Robin Lopez as the only Hornets to score in all four quarters plus the overtime session. Smith finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in just 26 minutes, continuing to exhibit the relentless energy that’s become his trademark. He canned five shots from the 17- to 20-foot range in the first half, leading NOLA to a 47-43 lead at the break.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: It didn’t wow you statistically, but Roger Mason provided a needed steadying presence in the second half, after not getting into the game prior to intermission. Mason again was called on to play in fourth-quarter crunch time, due to his combination of prudent ballhandling and respected perimeter shooting. The team’s most experienced NBA player drilled a three-pointer in OT, one of only two buckets by NOLA in extra time. Mason finished with six points on 2-for-3 shooting, in 19 minutes. 

The buzz on… another epic performance by a New Orleans opposing player. After recent overall and/or late-game scoring barrages by the likes of Oklahoma City’s Kevin Martin, Milwaukee’s Monta Ellis and New York’s Carmelo Anthony, the last thing the Hornets needed to see was an opponent get scorching hot when it mattered most. That’s exactly what happened, though, as Indiana’s Paul George breathed life into the Pacers in the second half with a memorable shooting display. The talented third-year pro - who many believe is a future All-Star and long-term face of the franchise - erupted for a career-high 37 points. For a team with a rich history that includes Hall of Fame shooting guard Reggie Miller, George also improbably set a single-game Pacers record by drilling nine three-pointers, on just 13 attempts.