Hornets.com postgame: Lakers 104, Hornets 96
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Lakers (41-37), Hornets (27-51)
It was over when… the Hornets committed a costly turnover while trying to advance the ball toward the halfcourt stripe, a sequence that ultimately resulted in a Dwight Howard dunk that gave the Lakers a 98-90 lead with 38 seconds remaining. In a back-and-forth, highly-entertaining affair, New Orleans led 50-45 at halftime and was tied at 70 with the playoff-hopeful Lakers through three quarters. Ultimately, Kobe Bryant’s 23-point fourth quarter enabled Los Angeles to secure a critical victory in the postseason race. The Lakers inched a half game ahead of Utah, which lost earlier Tuesday vs. Oklahoma City. Meanwhile, the Hornets will wrap up their five-game road trip Wednesday at Sacramento (9 p.m. Central).
Hornets MVP: The whole package was on display from Anthony Davis once again Tuesday, including smooth-looking mid-range jumpers, as well as acrobatic dunks and layups in which he twisted his athletic 6-foot-10 frame to grab long passes above the rim. Despite battling foul trouble much of the game, he totaled 18 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and one block in 38 minutes. The 2012 NCAA champion at Kentucky delivered 10 points in the fourth quarter, highlighted by three dunks. Honorable mention goes to Eric Gordon, who was relentless driving to the hoop, going 10-for-11 on free throws, part of a team-best 22-point outing.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: With a handful of games remaining in the regular season, Xavier Henry is suddenly playing some of his best basketball of 2012-13. Like Davis, Henry’s impact lately shouldn’t be measured solely by offensive production. He’s been extremely active on defense and seems to be around the ball much more often than in his minutes earlier in the season. In addition to six points and four rebounds, the Kansas product had one steal and one block, while often drawing the unenviable assignment of guarding Bryant one-on-one.
The buzz on… point guard. Over the final five games of the 2012-13 season, we’ll take a brief position-by-position look at the New Orleans roster, heading into the summer. Pelicans.com will have more comprehensive player offseason updates starting later this month. We begin with point guard, where Greivis Vasquez took over as the full-time starter, after the offseason trade of veteran Jarrett Jack. The extremely durable Vasquez emerged as NOLA’s most improved player, while moving into the upper echelon of point guards in terms of assists. The Hornets picked up Vasquez’s fourth-year option early last season, meaning the native of Venezuela is under contract for 2013-14. Is Vasquez a long-term starter? That question has been frequently debated by fans and media over the second half of this season. To Vasquez’s credit, few people believed he was a legitimate candidate for that designation prior to his big leap in performance. Backup point guard Brian Roberts has had an up-and-down debut in the NBA after playing overseas, but there has been a great deal of “up” in recent weeks. Roberts has often demonstrated why he was a high-level scorer and perimeter shooter in the German pro league. He’s also improved his playmaking skills as 2012-13 has progressed. New Orleans has a team option on Roberts for next season that will dictate his 2013-14 status.