The New Orleans Hornets took a season-high 10-game win streak into Sacramento Saturday night, and lost it. And that was to the Sacramento Kings -- it wasn't as if the Lakers or someone played the Hornets in Sactown. It was the Kings.
The back-end of the back-to-back came Sunday at the Phoenix Suns. The Hornets confirmed the end of their hot streak by losing to the Suns, a below-.500 team, 104-102. Perhaps New Orleans shouldn't have won -- officials missed a goaltending call on Grant Hill with 3.9 seconds.
They also arguably missed a couple of foul calls on Chris Paul's desperation three at the buzzer there. But the goaltend? That's more difficult to excuse. This wasn't a tough apex-of-the-shot call, or a bang-bang backboard miscue. Thornton put the ball off the glass, and then Hill tipped it. Goaltending, plain and simple.
That said, you shant trail the Suns by eight with 18 seconds to go, as the Hornets did, and expect to survive. The Hornets got turnovers on two late Hill inbounds passes, and Paul hit three free throws after Channing Frye fouled him on a deep attempt.
Paul finished with 26 points and 12 assists, but he, nor any Hornet, could stop the Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat, who went 9-10 on his way to 25 points and 11 rebounds.
In other action:
Magic 103, Cavaliers 87: What's more impressive, Dwight Howard's 20-20 in 26 minutes, or Ryan Anderson's 23-16 in 30 minutes? The correct answer is ... neither, because the Cavs were the opponent! Thanks for playing.
76ers 110, Nuggets 99: Denver is setting expectations for Monday's epic showdown with Mikhail Prokhorov's Nets in Newark low. Will all 6,000 fans at the Prude boo Carmelo Anthony? Tune in on League Pass and find out! The Nuggets got just 12 from 'Melo on 3-12 shooting, and Denver missed an opportunity to leap the Jazz for the No. 2 spot in the Northwest. Oklahoma City is preparing to run away with the division and the guaranteed top-four seed.