Hornets.com postgame: Mavericks 99, Hornets 87
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Mavericks (41-41), Hornets (27-55)
It was over when… a lengthy stretch of scoreless fourth-quarter play by both teams kept Dallas in front 93-75 with about four minutes remaining. The Mavericks finished their season at the .500 mark, while the Hornets wrapped up their final campaign prior to becoming the “Pelicans.” In fact, the team officially transformed into the New Orleans Pelicans as soon the clock in Dallas reached :00.0. The next big event for the team will be the May 21 draft lottery, which the Pelicans will enter in the fifth slot. New Orleans will therefore have an 8.8 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick. No NBA club has won back-to-back lotteries since the Orlando Magic did it in 1992-93.
Hornets MVP: Al-Farouq Aminu has received praise all season from Monty Williams for his above-average work on the backboards, particularly from his position of small forward. Aminu provided another demonstration of why he’s one of the best rebounders at the three, grabbing a team-record 14 rebounds in the first quarter alone. In the final game in “Hornets” history, Aminu broke a record that was actually set in the team’s debut season of 1988-89 (Kurt Rambis). Aminu finished Wednesday’s game with a career-best 20 rebounds, to go with 16 points. His previous career high in rebounds was 16.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: On a night when no one stood out among the reserves with a high-caliber performance, let’s go with New Orleans fans who have supported the team throughout what’s often been a tumultuous, adversity-filled last few years. No professional sports franchise has gone through the combination of events that New Orleans’ NBA team has experienced, including the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, near-annual uncertainty about the team’s future fate, along with the tenuous situation of the league having to step in and purchase the franchise in 2010. The change to Pelicans as a nickname not only symbolizes the connection of the franchise to Louisiana and its state bird, but also begins a new chapter that can’t possibly be anything but much smoother than the previous decade.
The buzz on… center. Robin Lopez, who was unseated as the starting center in Phoenix by the acquisition of Marcin Gortat, moved into New Orleans’ first unit from Day 1. He remained there for the duration of 2012-13, starting all 82 games. Lopez had some durability concerns with the Suns, so that was no small accomplishment for the 7-footer. Aside from Greivis Vasquez, Lopez may have improved from Game 1 to Game 82 more than any New Orleans player, showing unforeseen offensive ability, especially in the low post and on short jumpers. Prior to a season-ending shoulder injury, Jason Smith was outstanding in his relatively limited minutes, despite frequently being hampered by the shoulder issue. After Smith was ruled out for the year, Lou Amundson was signed to provide New Orleans with some much-needed depth at center. Amundson supplied the same energy and tough-minded play around the basket that he’s been known for at several stops during his much-traveled NBA career.