NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Steve Smith credited nothing more than a sense of urgency for his clutch shooting.
The victory helped New Orleans (23-17) avoid a season-worst five-game losing streak.
“I felt we had to get out of this some kind of way. You can’t keep losing, not when you’ve got a great team like this,” Smith said. “Tonight, we got out of it. It doesn’t matter whether it was hard or easy, as long as you get the win.”
“You won’t get calls down the stretch like that,” McGrady said. “It would have been nice to get the call because I did get hammered.”
It was a night of heroic reserve play for the Hornets, who got 45 points from their bench in overcoming an 11-point third-quarter deficit.
“They were the difference in the game,” Hornets coach Tim Floyd said. “(They) just executed … took quality shots each and every trip down, got stops on the other end, which kind of got their heads up.”
Smith and fellow reserve Robert Traylor combined for 23 second-half points and 16 in the fourth quarter, which began with New Orleans down 75-66.
Smith, who averages 11.5 minutes and 4.3 points per game, played 28 minutes because David Wesley was with a sprained left big toe. Smith shot 7-of-9 from the floor. Traylor finished with 14 points in 20 minutes, with 12 points coming in the second half.
“Any time you’ve lost four in a row it’s not going to be easy,” Traylor said. “It felt good to get a win—one point, 20 points, whatever it is, it just felt good to get that win tonight.”
Baron Davis added 16 points and eight assists for the Hornets, but his recent shooting struggles continued as he went 6-of-23 from the floor. Jamaal Magloire had 11 points and 10 rebounds and reserve Stacy Augmon added 12 points.
Orlando had a 38-36 edge in rebounds but New Orleans had 17 offensive rebounds. Orlando turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 22 Hornets points
“We gave up far too many second shots,” Orlando coach Johnny Davis said. “I thought there as contact (on McGrady’s last shot), but that wasn’t why we lost the game. We lost it on second shots and turnovers.”
McGrady scored a game-high 33 points but was only 1-of-5 from the floor for six points during the final 19 minutes.
Augmon’s turnaround fade put New Orleans up 91-89 with just over two minutes left, but misses by Brown and Davis that sandwiched Andrew DeClercq’s putback allowed Orlando to get the ball back in the final half minute trailing 91-90.
With the Hornets under the team foul limit, George Lynch purposely fouled McGrady, forcing Orlando to inbound again with 7.8 seconds left. That set up McGrady’s late miss.
With Wesley out, Floyd made a game-day decision to start Armstrong—who played for Orlando the past nine seasons—at point guard, and moved Davis to shooting guard.
When Smith came off the bench, he went to shooting guard and Davis went back to the point. Armstrong had nine points and four steals but he and Davis nearly cost the Hornets with bad outside shooting.
The Hornets were 5-of-25 from 3-point range, with Davis and Armstrongcombining to go 4-of-22. (Armstrong was 1-for-10).
Although Wesley was placed on the injured list, he was not replaced on the roster, which means he can return to the lineup without sitting out the minimum five games. But Floyd does not expect that to happen, saying Wesley, the Hornets’ second-leading scorer (15.5 ppg), could miss three-to-five weeks. … Lynch temporarily left the game early in the first half after cutting his head in a collision under the basket. He received stitches and a small adhesive bandage and returned in the second half. … The Magic issued a scoring correction from their overtime victory over Boston on Friday night. McGrady was given an additional two points—for a total of 44 for the game—on a tip-in that occurred with 1:23 left in the first half. The points were taken away fromZaza Pachulia.