Smith Leads Hornets Past Kings

Apr 11, 2012 | by Brett Martel, Associated Press

Monty Williams decided it was time to loosen the reins on Jason Smith. By the looks of things, the Hornets coach won't be reeling the blossoming 7-footer back in any time soon.

Smith scored 22 points, hitting 10 of 12 shots, to lead New Orleans to a 105-96 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

"I've watched his development and I've watched him play himself out of restrictions," Williams said. "I had restrictions on him when he first got here and now we just say, 'Jason, you've got to go out there and make plays.'"

It was the second time in three games that Smith had led the injury-riddled Hornets to a victory. The former Colorado State standout had 26 points and 10 rebounds in a victory last Saturday over Minnesota.

"I don't know why he's not getting any acclaim for most improved (player)," Williams said. "Look at where he came from last year. This year, nobody expected Jason to be the kind of guys that comes in, hits big shots, plays good defense. ... He's 7 feet tall. He can shoot to 18 feet. He can dunk. He can go to the basket. He plays solid defense. He's not afraid of the moment."

Smith averaged 4.3 points in 14.3 minutes per game off the bench last season. Now in his fourth NBA season, Smith is averaging close to 10 points in about 24 minutes per game.

"I'm trying to be more aggressive," Smith said. "Over time you develop your stuff in practice. ... I think that's what coach has allowed me to do. He sees me work in practice and he knows how hard I work."

Tags: Jason Smith , New Orleans Hornets , Basketball