Big Easy Buzz Blog - January 2, 2012 postgame: Jazz 94, Hornets 90

Monday, January 2, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
Jazz (2-3), Hornets (2-3)

It was over when… Jarrett Jack’s running three-pointer misfired with about two seconds remaining and New Orleans down four points. Utah rebounded the off-balance shot and dribbled out the rest of the clock for a narrow victory. It was tied at 86 when Devin Harris made a killer three-pointer, on a shot that bounded high off the front of the rim then improbably dropped through the net.

Hornets MVP: After consecutive subpar performances in which he shot poorly and turned the ball over often, Jack had what Hornets TV analyst Gil McGregor described as a “redemption.” Playing with noticeable intensity, Jack willed the Hornets to a 74-70 lead through three quarters by pouring in 23 points. He finished with 27 points, 11 assists – and even blocked two shots, not exactly part of a point guard’s job description. It was the type of individual performance that deserved to be rewarded with a victory, but NOLA was outscored 24-16 in the final period.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Jason Smith had one of his best games as a pro, in a high-energy effort that produced 16 points and eight rebounds (his career highs in those categories are 20 and nine, so he very nearly topped both of those, in just 25 minutes). Smith continues to fire accurate jump shots from the 18- to 20-foot range. He finished 8-for-13 from the field, scoring all of his buckets on jumpers. Chris Kaman also played well, scoring 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting. It’s a rare occasion when two of an NBA team’s best three players in an individual game include the backup power forward and the backup center, but that’s what took place at Utah.

The buzz on… a return to normalcy in the shooting department. The Hornets entered Monday’s slate of games ranked dead last in the NBA in three-point percentage, at an abysmal 9-for-57 (16 percent). Over a full season, it’s unusual for a team to shoot below 30 percent from the three-point arc, so the law of averages dictated that the team’s accuracy would improve (for example, Toronto shot a league-worst 31.6 percent on treys in 2010-11). Monty Williams, as well as several Hornets players, said prior to Monday’s game that they were not alarmed by the statistics through four games, because shooting slumps are part of life in the NBA. Still, it was good to see New Orleans shoot 50 percent from the field against the Jazz, as well as 3-for-10 from three-point range. Ten attempts from long distance isn’t enough to prove much of anything, but perhaps the fact that the Hornets limited their tries to only 10 was part of an effort to get better shots.