Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 102, Bucks 81
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Hornets (5-11), Bucks (8-8)
It was over when... Jason Smith nailed a jumper from near the top of the key, giving New Orleans a 93-74 lead and causing Milwaukee to use a full timeout with 3:36 remaining in regulation. It was the Hornets’ first home victory since defeating the Bobcats on Nov. 9. New Orleans also won for the first time all season by a double-digit margin.
Hornets MVP: During a pivotal third-quarter stretch, center Robin Lopez reeled off 11 consecutive points, helping the Hornets stretch their halftime advantage from 53-50 to 77-67 by the end of the quarter. Lopez finished with 21 points overall, all in the first three quarters. In his first season with the Hornets, his offensive production and touches have been unpredictable from game to game, but on Monday he was aggressive from the outset, going 8-for-10 overall from the field and 5-for-5 from the foul line. For the season, Lopez is shooting 75.5 percent on free throws, the best rate of his career.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Smith was the primary individual reason the Hornets iced the win, racking up 10 points in the fourth quarter, part of his bench-leading 12-point game. Just as important, Smith’s relentless play all over the court resulted in his notching three steals, three assists and three rebounds. Overall, it was a stellar performance by New Orleans reserves, with Lance Thomas and Brian Roberts joining Smith in double figures, tallying 10 points apiece. Thomas and Roberts were ultra-efficient, combining to shoot 9-for-12 from the field.
The buzz on… an inspired, near-teamwide quality performance on the home floor. Following a particularly rugged fourth-quarter sequence in which several Hornets went all-out for a rebound and loose ball, much of the crowd gave an impromptu standing ovation, appreciative of the hard work. As Ryan Anderson put it after the game of the gesture, “Of course they want to see us win every night, but from what I know about the fans, they just want us to come out and play hard, give a ton of effort and they’ll have your back.” During the recent rough stretch following a 3-2 start to the season by the Hornets, there have been games in which it appeared Anderson may have to launch upwards of 25 shots for New Orleans to even have a chance to win. Against Milwaukee, six different players scored in double figures. Anderson produced another valuable offensive game (22 points, 9-for-14 shooting, 7 rebounds), but he didn’t have to be overly aggressive this time in shouldering the load. Anderson credited several teammates for their energy throughout Monday’s win. “It was really sparked by guys coming out with a ton of effort,” Anderson said. “Lance Thomas and Robin (Lopez) did a great job of just sparking this team. When one guy comes in and makes some great plays, it gets everybody excited, and we're able to build off of that."