Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 95, Wolves 89

Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 95, Wolves 89

Saturday, March 10, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com
Hornets (10-31), Wolves (21-21)

It was over when… Kevin Love tossed up an airball on a floater through the lane, giving New Orleans the ball back up 91-87 with 7 seconds remaining. The Hornets wrapped up their four-game road trip on a positive note by holding off the Wolves late on free throws. Jarrett Jack and Marco Belinelli each made two clutch foul shots in the final 16 seconds to push the margin back to a two-possession game. That capped a quality performance for New Orleans, which either tied or held the edge at the end of each of the four quarters.

Hornets MVP: Facing a team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, it was important for the Hornets to establish themselves early in Saturday’s game. Chris Kaman was the player most responsible for accomplishing that, scoring 10 points in the first period, mostly around the rim. The 7-footer finished with a team-best 20 points, to go with six rebounds and three blocks.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: It’s nice to have several candidates to choose from, with Greivis Vasquez (12 points, 4 assists), Al-Farouq Aminu (8 points, 6 rebounds) and Lance Thomas (7 points, 5 rebounds) all garnering consideration. Let’s give the slight edge to Vasquez, who was on the floor during a pivotal fourth-quarter stretch that expanded the Hornets’ lead to double digits. Vasquez tallied five points in the final stanza, while on the floor with Kaman, Aminu, Xavier Henry and Gustavo Ayon.

The buzz on… how Minnesota’s final 24 games impact New Orleans. The Timberwolves were given devastating news earlier Saturday when rookie phenom Ricky Rubio was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. The timing of the injury couldn’t have been worse, because the Wolves are about to embark on a seven-game road trip that will likely go a long way toward determining whether they make the playoffs, or whether the pick conveyed to the Hornets will yield a coveted second spot in the lottery for NOLA. Starting Monday in Phoenix, Minnesota will be on the road for a total of 12 days, also making stops in Utah, Los Angeles (Lakers), Sacramento, Golden State, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Although it’s a mixed bag in terms of difficulty of opponent, the Wolves have already lost on the road once to the Suns and Jazz. By the time, the trek is over, Minnesota will only have 17 games remaining on its 66-game schedule, with eight of those on the road. Based on the standings, the dates to circle may be March 25 and April 11 (against Denver) and April 1 (at Portland). The Wolves are done with the Rockets, having beat them three of four matchups.