Hornets.com postgame: Clippers 96, Hornets 93
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Clippers (53-26), Hornets (27-53)
It was over when… Ryan Anderson’s turnaround shot from beyond the halfcourt stripe came up a few feet short at the buzzer, enabling Los Angeles to prevail in comeback fashion. Chris Paul sank four clutch free throws during the final two Clippers possessions to keep the visitors in the lead. Los Angeles trailed 63-57 entering the fourth quarter, but racked up 39 points over the final 12 minutes. The Hornets will play their final home game in “Hornets” history on Sunday vs. Dallas, before becoming the “Pelicans” on Thursday.
Hornets MVP: A genuinely difficult call, basically a toss-up between Robin Lopez (19 points, 12 rebounds), Eric Gordon (25 points) and Brian Roberts (15 points, 11 assists), but let’s go with Roberts, who was making just his fourth career NBA start. The Dayton product was pressed into heavy duty due to the injury absence of Greivis Vasquez (ankle); without Vasquez, Roberts is the only Hornets player who is most comfortable playing point guard. New Orleans looked disjointed at times without Roberts on the floor. The 27-year-old NBA rookie is now averaging 10.5 assists in his four starts. “When I brace myself for a lot of minutes, I just know I have to be aggressive,” Roberts said, by way of explaining his jump in assists as a first-stringer. “I can’t be passive or second-guess myself. That’s the major difference in how I approach the games when I know I’m going to play (major minutes).”
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Lou Amundson was easily the biggest presence for a bench that did not provide much statistically. Amundson packed in six points and eight rebounds in his 14 minutes on the floor, a big chunk of the reserves’ output. The in-season free-agent signee scored two of his baskets in the fourth quarter in typical fashion, with a dunk and a tip-in.
The buzz on… small forward. Hornets head coach Monty Williams has been very upfront recently about the possibility of significant change on next season’s roster. This position bears watching as the summer progresses, particularly because Al-Farouq Aminu is the only New Orleans starter who will be a free agent on July 1 (although New Orleans does have a team option on Robin Lopez, which it would have to exercise to prevent Lopez from reaching the open market). Aminu has often looked like a completely different player compared to his 2011-12 debut in New Orleans, doing a much better job of playing to his strengths and focusing on what he does well (rebounding, individual defense). As a result, he’s been considerably more consistent. Backup small forward minutes have gone most often to Darius Miller and Xavier Henry. Miller has looked like a more confident player following the All-Star break, while Henry’s best basketball of 2012-13 has come in the past week-plus. Like Aminu, Henry will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, adding to the long-term uncertainty at the three spot for New Orleans.