The New Orleans Hornets were up by six at halftime Tuesday night at the New Orleans Arena, but lost ground to the Atlanta Hawks in the 3rd quarter, couldn’t catch up, and lost, 95-86.
After the break Atlanta put up a veteran front that New Orleans just could not match. Josh Smith, the Hawks’ top scorer and a nine-year veteran, aggressively attacked the Bees on both sides of the court, scoring a total of 23 points, along with 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocked shots.
“I thought Josh Smith really set the tone in the second half,” Hawks Head Coach Larry Drew said after the game. “He was absolutely phenomenal; every physical play where the ball was involved — he was there.”
The Hornets’ 3rd quarter slump was due to turnovers and poor shot performance. Head Coach Monty Williams called a timeout at 6:40, after Smith hit the go-ahead jumper from the top of the key to put the Hawks ahead for the first time since 5:53 of the 2nd quarter, and subbed in Eric Gordon for Austin Rivers.
“We gave up 28 points in the 3rd quarter and just didn’t do a good job on offense,” Hornets guard Roger Mason, Jr. said after the game. “They outworked us in the 3rd quarter, and that was a big part of their win."
The Hornets were able to come within two points twice in the 4th quarter. But with 3:57 left in the game, Hawks’ guard Kyle Korver knocked down an uncontested three from the corner, putting Atlanta back ahead by 5, 87-82. After that the Hawks relentlessly scored under the rim, with both Smith and center Al Horford throwing down dunks to seal the victory, 95-86.
New Orleans did find success from downtown tonight. The hometown team hit 10 three-pointers, shooting 50% from outside. Ryan Anderson scored 15 of his 23 points from outside the arc. Roger Mason, Jr. was a perfect 3-3 from three-point range.
The Hornets shot 33.3% from the free-throw line, only connecting 4 out of 12 times. This marks a season low for the Bees, as well as a franchise low for a single game.
Austin Rivers struggled to find his groove tonight, shooting only 1-5 from the field. He was blocked three times and committed 2 turnovers in a limited 16 minutes. Coach Williams went to Eric Gordon to replace Rivers from the bench.
Gordon checked in at 5:40 in the first quarter and has greeted with a hearty applause with small undercurrent of boos. He scored 11 points, shooting 5-17 from the field and only 1-4 from the line, passed out 3 assists and committed 4 turnovers in his home debut tonight.
Despite a mediocre stat line, Gordon’s presence helped on both sides of the court. He scored his first points from 14’ with a contested jump-shot, and throughout the game he attacked the rim off the dribble, able to score underneath and draw the foul. His cross-court passing opened up the floor, making any New Orleans player a threat, and his defensive effort helped to close the passing lanes. Gordon ended up playing for almost 24 minutes off the bench.
- The Hornets’ Robin Lopez has recorded a block in 26 of 31 total games so far this season. He didn’t have any blocks tonight, however, but did put up 10 points and collect 5 rebounds.
- The Hornets have won 22 of the last 35 regular season games over the Hawks.
- Ryan Anderson leads the team with 554 points this season, and 217 rebounds.
- 2012-13 is the Hornets’ 25th anniversary as a franchise, stretching back to their inception in Charlotte in 1988. The Hornets are 934-987 overall.
- Atlanta has hit 55 three-pointers over the last five games, including 9 tonight. The Hawks have averaged 28.6 assists per game over the last six games, including 30 tonight.
- This was the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The Hornets will travel to Atlanta on Feb 8.
- Atlanta’s Josh Smith picked up 13 rebounds tonight, giving him 5001 over the course of his career.
Hornets Guard Eric Gordon After the Game
I missed a lot of easy shots. A lot of them, that I could have made, but they just didn’t go in for me. I couldn’t get in the flow, and you could tell they really didn’t want me to get in the lane. So I just, you know, have got to be a little more creative. Maybe towards my teammates, but at the same time I missed a lot of easy shots.
On the Atlanta defense:
I was watching, when I come off a screen I always look at the guys to see different lanes and how the guys rotate, and they played pretty decent defense. It’s just we just couldn’t get a flow of making shots in a row. But they had a lot of tough shots in that third quarter.
On coming off the bench for his first home game this season:
You know, it definitely means a lot, but at the same time I’m on their side and I’m part of this team, and I look forward to winning just like everybody else on this team. And that’s that.
On getting back in a rhythm:
I’ve only had a full week of really practicing with the team, getting in the flow of the game, and I’m going to have good nights and maybe some bad nights from now on, but really when I feel 100% and in the best shape, that’s when I expect a lot of myself. I do now, but it’s going to be a different flow for me when I play unlimited restrictions of minutes.
I’m still getting there. There’s times during a game I get tired. The first and second half. And I just try to bully myself through it.
It’s just a total of a lot of things. There’s still rehabbing and getting into shape, and also getting acclimated with the team as far as practicing, because I’ve only had like three practices with them, so I’m still getting acclimated with the team.
We’ve just got to figure out different flows for when I get in there, because I try to make an impact as I get in the game by scoring and playmaking. It’s all about a chemistry thing at this point.
On heading to Houston for the next game:
We’ll go over the game plan tomorrow. We look forward to definitely winning, and I think we’re definitely capable of it.