Hornets Defeat Blazers to Move to 8-0

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Published: November 13, 2010

It wasn’t the prettiest game of the season, but the Hornets won again to get their record to an NBA best 8-0. LaMarcus Aldridge was off all night, Brandon Roy only played 20 minutes due to a knee injury, and the Blazers as a whole just seemed fatigued, yet the Hornets just could not find a way to pull away until late in the fourth quarter. A couple of late threes by Belinelli, however, closed the door on any hopes the Blazers had for a comeback as the Hornets won 107-87. (box)

Seven Hornets scored in double figures, including Peja Stojakovic who had not played since the second game of the season. All of Peja’s shot attempts came from deep, as he finished with 11 points on 3 for 7 shooting.  David West and Marco Belinelli led all scorers with 18 and Emeka Okafor went for 14 and 12 in another impressive showing for the often criticized center.

Portland received uneven contributions throughout the night from their key players. Nicolas Batum was MIA in the first half, scoring zero points, but then came out like gangbusters in the second half and scored 16. Andre Miller was exactly the opposite, as he did almost all of his damage in the first half but was nowhere to be found when Portland really needed him. LaMarcus Aldridge was the only consistent Blazer- consistently bad- as he went 4 of 14 and only pulled down 5 rebounds despite being taller and longer than any Hornet he was facing.

Notes and Observations

**Jason Smith made the play of the game early in the 4th quarter. With the Hornets up 7 and struggling for offense, Smith chased down an airball and tossed it to a cutting Willie Green who hit got fouled and hit the layup. Possible 5 or 6 point swing, plus it got the crowd back into the game. Huge play.

**Marcus Thornton was inactive for the game. Monty activated Peja for the game, whom he used primarily at power forward in small ball lineups. Obviously Peja was a good move, but wouldn’t have Marcus done better against the Portland zone than Q-Pon?

**Willie Green made some big shots. In addition to the three-point play mentioned earlier, Green hit a runner at the end of the third quarter buzzer to put Hornets up by 9 and hit another tough shot in the 4th quarter as the shot clock expired.

**The Hornets zone defense was extremely effective in getting Portland to take bad shots, however Portland owned the glass whenever the Hornets played zone. Those hoping the Hornets can play zone against the Lakers are mistaken.

**I like Bayless and still think he will prove to be a good acquisition (especially if the pick is in the 25-28 range), but I can see why Portland traded him. Armon Johnson is impressive and could be a long term answer for Portland at PG. Physically he looks like Terrell Owens and he plays the game with a tenacity of a young Derek Fisher.

**Trevor Ariza just loses focus at times during the game; plain and simple. He started off the game well against Brandon Roy and can lock guys down when he is locked in, but he just seems disinterested at times in games. Monty seemed to notice as well, going with Willie Green when the game was still in question in the 4th quarter.

**Yes Jerryd Bayless can only go right and he turns the ball over too much, but he does do some things well. I am most impressed by his defensive rebounding in the lane. On that second unit, that is huge. At times the Hornets had Peja at the 4 and J Smitty at the 5, so they needed all the help they could get in the lane and Bayless provided that. His 3 rebounds might not look like much on the stat sheet, but they all came in that 2nd quarter when the Hornets were playing small ball.

**No Hornet played more than 33 minutes. The days of CP3 and West playing 40+ minutes a game are gone. Monty does not panic when other teams go on small runs against the bench, he trusts his guys and that does so much for players’ confidence. Byron Scott killed the confidence of guys with his rotations but Monty knows he will need each and every player on this roster at some point.

**Brandon Roy left the game for good as he re-injured his left knee. I was told by a friend in the NBA that everyone in the league knows Roy will never be 100% and the Blazers have secretly been putting out feelers for B. Roy. I don’t blame them, especially considering Batum’s potential. Between Roy’s knee, Oden’s injury history, Fernandez desire to go back to Spain, and Aldridge’s mental and physical softness, I just don’t know what I would do if I was GM of this team.

**Last, but not least, I am sick of CP3 getting treated like a 3rd string point guard when it comes to the way officials treat him. I hate the idea of “star calls” more than anybody, but if they are part of the NBA, then they are part of the NBA. Yet CP3 just doesnt get the respect he deserves, and on top of it, now he is getting T’ed up because he is voicing his displeasure with their horrible calls. You all know me, I am far from a “homer”- I try to be as objective as possible, but on this issue I can not hold my tongue. Paul gets hacked on a play; no call. Next possession Armon Johnson gets bumped and the whistle is blown immediately. Really? Really? No….. Really?

**Hornets look to go 9-0 against Dallas on Monday in the first game of a home and home series.

82 comments
L_Reazy
L_Reazy

It's true, Marcus Thornton helped a losing team ... win ... some games last year ... if that makes any sense to any of you? I mean the Hornets won 37 games last year out of 82. Wow! Not! As important as some of you make the 'ever-inconsistent Marcus Thornton' out to be he can't seem to crack the rotation for a winning team that's 8-for-8 on the season this year. I'll state this again as I've stated before ... Marcus Thornton thought he had the starting 2-guard spot locked up this past summer because there wasn't anyone else on the team that he considered a threat at that time. He should have been working on his defense then, but instead he allowed Green, Belinelli, and Bayless to come in from different teams, and take his time from him. Pondexter is next in line. That being said, I'll pen this response as, "Marcus Thornton: definitely tradeable, never untouchable" L_Reazy

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

My hope is that we keep the team we have, while maybe adding a player to fill the empty spot based on need. Marcus/Aaron/Peja will all be valuable later in the season if (when) injuries occur or to adjust our line-up to defend the other team. Even if we do lose a game (unlikely, I know), we should not over-reach by trading anyone right now.

stormsurge
stormsurge

Does anyone know if our Refs you Suck chant made the broadcast?

Downtowndave78
Downtowndave78

Yes, I could hear it and understand it my living room. Good job guys!

Caleb
Caleb

Yep, it definitely did. I heard it.

Stefan
Stefan

MT5 is great, but he just isn't fitting into our plans right now. I'd much rather like to see us turning him and Peja into a scoring SG or a decent backup C. I wouldn't hesitate to let Marcus go. I never developed the same man crush on him like many fans on this site. I just LOVE defense. It's one of the reasons I never really hated San Antonio... even after the playoff series.

JCS
JCS

@Stefan I have a agreed with every comment you written this week, including this one.

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

I feel like it's a lot easier for fans to judge the offensive side of the ball than the defensive side of the ball. For that reason alone, I trust Monty. My personal interest in Marcus is how he looks so unhappy sitting on that bench and it's hard not to want to see the guy play after the season he had last year (and the fact that we flat robbed him from the Heat out of LSU).

LJ
LJ

I'm wondering if Bayless only being able to go right is accurate. I know for a fact, he drove left and scored at least once last night. I know the announcers kept saying it, over and over, but that doesn't make it true. They also claimed that Bellinelli was nothing to be worried about and is without a doubt our weakest defender on the court.

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

(I'm assuming you're talking about the Blazers annonucers) Living outside of NO I watch it ALL the games on League pass and the Blazers announcers are one my least favorites. The Blazers announcers also said Okafor's game is a lot like Dennis Rodman's was. WHAT?!? I'm not convinced that that game wasn't their first look at the Hornets all season. They also took a stab at the attendance. One announcer said "Chris Paul has such good vision he probably already counted everyone in the stands" the other announcer snapped "He wouldn't have to count that high" OUCH!!! It's true but wow!

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

Everyone knows Portland covets Chris Paul. Let them dream.

JCS
JCS

@Caleb

Caleb
Caleb

JCS... so you are saying Marcus had nothing to do with the 37 games the Hornets won last year? Marcus isn't a guy who can put a team on his back and push said team into playoff contention, but to say he didn't help win us any games? Come on man. 11-19-09: Marcus has 19 points on just 12 shots to go along with 4 rebounds. Hornets get a much needed win against a red hot Phoenix team 110 - 103. 11-21-09: Marcus drops 21 points on 16 shots with 3 rebounds and 0 turnovers as the Hornets win 96-88 against the Hawks. Hornets have put together a nice little 3-0 streak. 12-9-09: Marcus scores 20 with a highly efficient 8-13 shooting night. He also has 2 steals and just a single turnover. Hornets beat the Wolves 97-96. 2-26-10: Marcus puts up 18 points on 14 shots, with 7 rebounds, an assist and a steal. Hornets beat the Magic 100 - 93. 3-8-10: Marcus scores 28 points on 19 shots, has 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. The Hornets win against the Warriors 135 - 131. 4-14-10: Another 20 point night for Marcus resulting from an excellent 8 - 12 shooting effort. He also has 6 assists and 2 steals. Hornets win the season closer 123 - 115. I could go on. I understand the "its not broke, dont fix it" thinking. I do... but as Rohan from At the Hive pointed out in a post the other day, being 8-0 doesn't mean that every decision being made is the correct one. There's no inconsistency in praising the overall great job Monty and the staff had done but still questioning certain decisions. I'm personally going to focus on the huge list of positives rather than this single negative of Marcus not playing. And honestly... I fully expect to see Marcus get some burn down the road so I don't think its a huge issue at this point. We should probably view the fact that we have more worthy players than we have playing time available as a wonderful problem to have. All that said, I'm going to defend him if someone says he has never contributed to the Hornets winning games. That's just incorrect.

42
42

@HiMyNameisSteven: To be perfectly honest about my personal feelings, I sincerely hope that Marcus is developing and we hold onto him and reap the benefits of his development. The crux of the matter is how quickly he reaches the level of the rest of the guys on defense, if he does. We have to remember that one of Monty's `things' is development of young talent. I'm hanging my hat on that to some extent. I have yet to come to some conclusion about whether we need to deal Peja or just let him expire. I've been back and forth on it, spending more time leaning toward a deal and that's where I'm at now. Such a deal may very well include Marcus, as has been discussed, and that changes the dynamic considerably.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

here is where im at since i usually agree with u 420 and i know im being super pro marcus but.... we couple him with peja to get some overpaid player who will only make us marginably better since we are so stacked from pg to sf such as adding iggy or gerald wallace then we are stuck with a big money player leaving us again no flexibility then we see two year from now marcus averaging 20 points a game and we are stuck with an old willie a not so much better bayless and maybe belly there or not depending on what kind of contract he will command (one prob higher than marcus due to his starters minutes) again there will be a time we need a knock down shooter in the playoffs off the bench and i dont see anyone better at that on our bench than marcus or even the guys we are talking about adding

42
42

When you see something that doesn't make sense, it's likely due to folks cherry-picking facts to fit a personal point-of-view (I like player X, I dislike player Y). In this section we see someone who has never and will never like Gray, no matter how many good games he has (he hasn't had many) and people who just want Marcus to play because they really believe he can help the team. Regardless of the trust Monty has built with other decisions, the pro-Marcus people won't accept the possibility (not fact) that Marcus just may not be a fit for this team at this time, just like they and others aren't acknowledging that he may grow to have a role here. These discussions have a place, but they will be more effective when the facts, some of which are hard to access, are valued. As far as saving money goes: we have to pay Peja this year and not next. If we deal him, we have to take on salary that is fairly close to Peja's since no team is far enough under the cap to absorb his salary without going over the cap. The Kings and Timberwolves could actually send us small pieces to get him, so maybe those are sources of role players for us. Since we have a free roster spot, we can take back one player more than we send out. Regardless, the saving money thing seems like it just isn't going to happen on a large scale. Besides, we save money when he expires, so we don't have to expend effort to save money in the long run; we only need to wait. To up our value per dollar, that takes effort and that should be the focus.

JCS
JCS

@HMNIS According to Ryan & Mac, MT5 will be expected to make millions in his next contract, whether it's from us or some other team.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

trade a potential double digit scorer when he sees minutes that makes less than a million a year? so trading him to get an overpaid player like iggy is saving money?

JCS
JCS

I commend you for backing up your argument with stats. However, I respectfully disagree and sternly believe MT5's lack of contributions outweigh his aforementioned games of influence. Now please don't get me wrong - I like Marcus Thorton. Furthermore, you will never find a comment on this blog where I wrote he was bad for the team. It's just that Monty has showed us we don't need him to win, but we do need to A) acquire a back up center who can help us maintain these wins, and B) save money. The solution to these problems is to 1) trade Peja who with all due respect is overpaid and over the hill, 2) trade Marcus who cost us money that we've yet to see a return, and 3) dump Aaron Gray who has never given any team ROI whatsoever. My train of thought is from a business perspective. If you're not bringing anything to the table, but your costing us money, then it's time for you to go.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

thank you its ridiculous how people think he is not good for the team

JCS
JCS

At first I thought it was just that one girl who was hot for Thorton, but now it seems like it's a bunch of you. Me, I like Thorton, but I haven't forgot how he's never won us games as he managed to inflate his personal stats. Sooo, if we're undefeated without him and he's yet to give us a ROI, then why keep him?

Caleb
Caleb

JCS... he helped to win a number of games last year, so I'm not sure what you are talking about. Just because we are undefeated without him doesn't mean not playing him is the right decision. I mean... I'm much happier about the 8-0 start than I am unhappy about MT not getting playing time. Still, I believe Marcus has shown he deserves to be out there. Hopefully he gets back into the action sometime this season.

JCS
JCS

Last season I don't recall him winning us any games, but I do remember him putting up big numbers as we took L's. Nevertheless, Hornets are undefeated w/out him (and Aaron Gray) as they consistently hold their opponents below 100 points. Given this kick-butt algorithm, what's the logic of putting him in? He's yet to prove himself as an asset to this team IMO.

42
42

Does anyone really think that Monty, who activated Peja last night and had him play decent defense, would hesitate to play Marcus if he thought his defense was ready? Does anything think after activating Peja after 4 straight inactives that Monty is not going to activate someone he think is going to be one of the 12 best that night? Please don't say Marcus in your answers; I'm asking yes/no questions about Monty using Peja as the focal point.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

Marcus Thornton gives up more than he gives (if-you-will). We keep stating the same things ... he's a defensive liability, inconsistent on offense, almost a mirror image of Jerryd Bayless only without defense. One thing I'll say about Jerryd Bayless is that he plays good on-ball defense. Marcus Thornton does not. If Marcus is going to play he has to take Bayless' minutes away from him. He hasn't been able to do that yet ... maybe he is just a marginal player! The team is 8-0 so far without the use of Marcus Thornton ... it doesn't seem like they need him folks ... sorry! L_Reazy

scedotal
scedotal

Peja played well, so why complain. I like Marcus Thornton, but as long as we are winning there is no point in complaining. Pops is good too. It is nice to have depth. Let's enjoy it.

JNR
JNR

8-0 is the important stat here. Thornton is a good player, sure, but he is much more valuable to me as trade bait. If we are still able to win with Willie Green and Bayless getting quality minutes, I would much rather we package Thornton with Peja for another scorer. I don't know if Monty is just playing favorites, or if he truly can't play team defense, but in the end winning trumps all else. Pops needs to show a lot more than excellent rebounding to crack this rotation, too. Jason Smith comes off the bench with a lot of energy, and until Pops or DJ can match that, they're gonna stay where they've been sitting.

eric
eric

i have to agree with noengineer this marcus stuff is getting a little creepy it sucks hes not playing but to say i hope we lose so marcus can come in, thats just crazy s team is rolling with or without him. dont get me wrong im a mt5 fan too but im a bigger hornets fan. if he gets traded i wish him the best and i hope he gets the mins he deserves and can flourish with someone (in the eastern conference of coarse lol) GEAUX HORNETS BEAT DALLAS TWO TIMES

rm
rm

I am worried about the future of Pops in this team. In a game where they were struggling on the boards he didn't get any player time. I know his offensive game has yet come out what is evident is that he still is a awesome rebounder. With Hornets getting owned when playing zone on the boards I thought that some minutes were coming up for Pops, but no. 0 defensive boards from Smith in 20 minutes of play is not PF or C good.

Schmide234
Schmide234

although the hornets werent rebounding well, they won the game. not only that but one of the staples of Monty's coaching style is to trust his key rotation players when theyre struggling. if he pulls smith for pops, smith losses confidence and we dont get any of smith big plays in the second half. i just want to say to EVERYONE whose complaining about marcus not playing that we are 8-0. its simple as that. when things are workign you dont move the pieces that make it work. I believe that Monty is trying to prove to himself and the FO that this team is great without marcus's production and therefore can move the pieces not involved (i.e. marcus and peja) for a major piece to be added.

Schmide234
Schmide234

ur right that willie and bayless may not be able to always score, but thats why theyre so successful. defense will always be there so when theyre playing that lakers second unit (which honestly isnt that good) and they arent hitting all there shots, they will play defense and get steals for easy buckets.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

just wait until one of these games we fall behind and we need some scoring punch and then youll see willie and bayless (while they can score seem to get out of control alot) wont be able to get it done... its not alll about defense u need to score and against teams like the lakers i dont see our team holding them under 100

Ryan Schwan
Ryan Schwan

RM, I admire your support of Pops, but his playing time for the Hornets isn't out of line for what he's seen with any of his teams in the NBA. It may just be that he's only a marginal rotation player.

rm
rm

Agree that his time is not out of line with his other teams however DNP's aren't good. In a game where Hornets were getting beaten on the boards, Smith and Peja with 1 defensive board between them, I thought that he would see some time. Monty is playing match ups and isn't playing the same rotation twice so Pops knows that there is always a chance to get minutes. I wish Pops could show he is also an offensive spark off the bench as I know he has the in the paint game. Get practising your jumper Pops!

Bug Marley
Bug Marley

My totally WTF take on Marcus Thornton's lack of playing time: Monty and Demps are afraid that with too much exposure, teams would offer Marcus plenty of money next season, more than what the Hornets can offer. LOL

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

Wow. The Marcus Thornton obsession is really getting out of hand. The team has won EVERY game against some quality opponents, by using a quality of defense we haven't ever experienced. Every player has seen action except Aaron Gray the dearly departed Joe Alexander, with our starters averaging less than 36 minutes. The players that MT5 would replace have had some solid performances and are improving rapidly. On offense Bayless has cut WAY down on turnovers, Green has been clutch, and Belinelli has hit big threes. All are part of a stifling 2nd-unit defense. Thornton hasn't shown the same defensive performance yet. If he is (or you are) unhappy about that resulting in reduced burn, stop enabling one-sided play and get the man to play some better defense. I like the fact that the coach is sticking to a worthy plan and not making exceptions due to one player's fan-perceived greatness.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

thats the thing in my opinion of the games i have watched here is my DEFENSIVE analysis of the guards excluding cp3 since i assume no one wants his pt sacrificied for anyone Green: he actually has been the most effective defensive guard. he is quick enough to keep up with the quicker guards and tough enough for the physical ones. good job on ball and shows hard on all picks and contests Belly- everyone is saying how great he is on D but i honestly am not buying it so much. he does a good job one on one but really i have seen multiple times him come sooo slow off rotations that even I could have hit the open jump shots people were missing. we would of lost heat game if their bench wasnt so off from deep, many of those misses coming when belly was slow on the rotation. also he isnt too agile getting around the screens but does a good stop switching off those picks which is nice Bayless- ehh havent been impressed he is nice when he starts out since he is both physical and quick but he definately looses his defender a good amount of the time. he gambles a little bit also and luckily not many quick quick guards have been in there playing against him in there or the might exploit his over agressiveness at time (and still i think his offense hurts the team in general he is not looking to create but to score, or if you count create for himself then he does create) Marcus- the limited time he has been in he has been much much improved. still gets pushed around by bigger guys but his rotations and getting through the screens look alot better and he keeps up with his guys off the dribble. maybe practice is different but i have not been screaming at the tv once for his defensive play when i have many times before at the others

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

ive been a hornets fan since the charlotte days and this is the first time ive had mixed feelings about the team... ive always loved them even during the awful seasons when baron was being baron but even though we are 8-0 i honestly feel myself rooting against us at times so that marcus can get in i hate seeing him on the bench... so does anyone know if he was inactive due to his little achilles issue or just cuz monty is playing favorites?

42
42

I saw him the game walking between locker rooms. He was dressed like everyone else and looked as if he'd been shooting etc., sweaty and what not. The evidence points to Peja not only getting an activation at Marcus' expense, but that he also go PT that, Pops, may have been in contention for.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

definately agree if monty is focusing on defense then why is peja in there? sean marks was killing him SEAN MARKSSSSS

rm
rm

why do you think that was? Monty experimented with Peja at PF pre season and it didn't work too great. In terms of hussle and rebounding I am not sure it worked last night either.

MaxALM
MaxALM

i really wish i knew too. in the 2nd quarter Willie shot a wide open 3 and bricked it. I couldn't help but think wow, marcus would have drained that shot. i mean, is his defense even worse than Peja's? I don't buy that. Marcus can steal the ball, disrupt passing lanes, and hustle alot more than Peja can. I don't understand it at all. It's the only problem I have with Monty.

Humil
Humil

Alright, it's pretty biased to say something like "Thorton doesn't contribute to some of our wins last year...", he was a young promising offensive player squeezing output outta tube on a non-playoff team last year, obviously as much as he played he was a contributor. Nonetheless, not only is all the hyper man-love irritating to read, much of this debate says quite little about the actual meaningfulness of his contribution to this current winning team - there is no indication that Monty is a irrational coach to purposefully hurt the team if a real contributor is in the wings. (seems like more than a few are on the verge of straight accusing him of having no idea what a gem Thorton is.) The comment on his on-ball d is all too true, Thorton seemed to me too rabid and lost (of the overall concept) at the same time to be truly effective, and that rabidness most likely also hurts the team D to a point where his offensive explosiveness does not offset in total value. I also agree that it's easiest to judge offense more valuable as a fan, because that's the shiny. Further, blind, one-sided home fan love is silly, especially when the arguments are not all that reasonable. So what if Thorton can score in bunches, if he hurts the stability/execution of the O/D game plans? One last thing... There are certain players who are just not "built" as blue-collar players, and often proves too obtuse to wholeheartedly do that work, no matter how much nudge. We've all played with a few (whether school teams or pickup games) who are only too happy to leak out, and never help hit the boards. I much prefer this edition of working class over-achievers than last couple of years of somewhat talented losers... Seeing DWest trying hard on D is just kind of a miracle. Thank you Monty for being steadfast in morphing the team identity.

MaxALM
MaxALM

Seriously James? Supportive comments about "marginal" players? Is Peja NOT a marginal player? What else does he do except shoot 3s? You tell me. My "supportive comments" come in favor of a player who has multiple skills imo, at the expense of a player who has one skill. Now I understand that Marcus will not play the stretch PF position like Peja did, but how often does Peja play that position? Rarely. If you read my words, all I said was that Marcus seems to be a better option when looking for offense. You can't tell me Peja was in the game for his defense. And don't go so far as to say I have "little knowledge of the game." I am not saying that these rotations are bad, obviously. They've gotten this team to be undefeated. I support everything Monty has done. He's brilliant. I'm not challenging his ideas, mind you. I would just be nice to see Marcus play. Why wouldn't I support him? a fan favorite generally is

James Online
James Online

Max: That's what I mean about supportive comments about marginal players that show the poster has little knowledge of the game. To use your words, in my view you are showing you want to discredit this team and its future if you think Marcus should be playing over those who are out there on an 8-0 basketball team.

sk
sk

peja is 6'10".. you are not suggesting we can use MT as PF? MT should be used more often, no reason not to do so. All resources should be utilised for the benefit of the team (in the court and in a trade)..

JCS
JCS

The people at COX Sports can eat spatchula and die. The gosh dilly game was not broadcast on my League Pass, ESPN, or NBA TV. What the french toast!?