He’s Back: Thornton Fuels Hornets Comeback Victory

By:
Published: December 15, 2010

It was a tale of two halves and one player, as Marcus Thornton and the Hornets  came back from 23 down to emerge victoriously in what may be yet another turning point in their season. It was a thrilling 94-91 victory for everyone in attendance (13,325).

What’s wrong with the Hornets? What happened to that group who were the last undefeated team in the NBA? Questions like that, and many more were racing furiously though the head of every Hornets fan after a first half that saw the Sacramento Kings drop 57 points, and the Hornets score only 41. Ariza, Paul, West, and Belinelli combined to go 3/18 in the first half. They were outscored by Tyreke Evans, who only took only 10 shots total. Thankfully Okafor’s offense was on point; otherwise the hole may have been insurmountable.

About that second half…

West got T-ed up within 30 seconds for arguing a call. I can’t blame him. The lead would swell to 20 by the time the time Paul decided to make his first field goal, a pretty little jumper from the top of the key. He went for the same shot the next possession, but wasn’t successful. It was one of those nights where you could tell he wasn’t feeling his shot. Maybe he had his mind on the release of his new shoe, the CP3 IV (details to come).

Marcus Thornton

Want to know why the Hornets came back? Marcus Thornton. HE IS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS. Today Monty Williams learned just what he brings to the table on both ends of the floor and in the stands. His defense was awesome tonight. Awesome.I felt so emotional seeing him perform well again. It reminded me of why I started writing and following the Hornets to begin with. I’m thankful that Monty unleashed him.

Marcus Thornton always comes into the game with a standing ovation. If you are ever wondering why the crowd is cheering randomly, it’s because he’s walking to the scorer’s table. He’s a popular fellow, if you can’t tell from the reader comments. On his first offensive play of the game he hustled his ass off down the court right at the rim. Jarret Jack hit him with a sweet pass, and just like that Marcus had his first points. He’s so aggressive! A few possessions later he made his mark on the defensive side of the ball, with a swat worth watching repeatedly on youtube.

One thing that I’ve noticed this year is that Marcus is always looking at the bench/scorer’s table to see if he’s coming out. Normally he is. After about six good minutes, he was gone. Monty preferred the match ups with Marco Belinelli on the floor. That would change in the second half.

When the deficit got to 23 with 8:45 left in the third quarter, a timeout was called and the coaching staff huddled up. Right after, Marcus came back in for 15 minutes (although he walked to the bench expecting to be subbed out twice). When he came out the deficit was only 2 points. Again, he WAS the reason why.

A minute later Monty called his name again and he was back on the floor, hitting floaters, causing havoc, and getting the crowd to go bat-**** crazy. He didn’t get the and-one call (no surprise), but that gave the Hornets their first lead of the night.

His tip in with 18 seconds to go sealed the game. An incredible performance by last years second round pick. Without him this is a blowout loss.

There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING that I want to see more than Thornton’s resurgence to coincide with that of the Hornets. It would mean so much for the city of New Orleans to have a locally born guy making a big impact. Aside from Chris Paul, he’s the guy this city is most capable of rallying behind.

Other Player notes

  • Ariza does so many things right that it’s hard for me to again have to point out how inefficiently he puts the ball in the basket. According to Synergy Sports, he’s averaging only .82 points per possession, which puts him somewhere around 270th in the league. If there’s anyone else outside the top 250 who shoots it 10 times a game, I wasn’t able to find them. Seriously, he needs to stop shooting so much. This isn’t funny anymore. It’s not like he’s ever been a particularly efficient player, and apparently playing with Paul isn’t having the effect anyone hoped for.
  • David West was struggling to get into a rhythm. The team really needed him to get DeMarcus Cousins his fourth foul early in the third quarter, but he repeatedly failed to do anything productive offensively. That said, he played like a warrior, being physical on the boards and on defense. He missed two big free throws with under a minute to go in the fourth, but we can excuse him. He added a season high seven assists.
  • Jason Smith played some big minutes in the first half. He was one of the reasons the game stayed within reach.
  • Paul added a nearly silent 22 and 11 assists on only 11 shots.

Game Notes

Today there were about 40- eight year old kids dribbling full size NBA basketballs for the halftime show. They were rotating them around their bodies and doing stuff like trying to dribble through their legs.  Here’s the thing- The balls were way too big. [Insert joke here]. I wasn’t impressed or entertained. Maybe I was just upset about being down 16 at the half to the Kings, but that seemed more worthy of a timeout show, not a halftime show.  

They played Thunderstruck at the Arena tonight which made me happy beyond belief. I recently found a drinking game related to the song, and it’s become my favorite almost overnight. If I had a little less self control, this recap could have taken a very strange turn around that point in the night. Details to come at next Hornets watch party.

I thought that we would be seeing Belinelli heads in the Arena for his three pointers, but instead three Italian flags have been put into action. It’s too bad. Those heads were hilarious. The Italian flag is, well, less hilarious.

Gary Chouest gave up his courtside seats to members of the National Guard.

83 comments
C.C.
C.C.

L_Reazy.....I may be wrong but you seem like a MT hater!

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

I just hope Marcus Thornton can do this (1) consistently and (2) against better competition. GREAT GAME MARCUS, but the only thing I’ve ever criticized Marcus for was inconsistency. This game proves he can play good basketball … it doesn’t prove consistency! L_Reazy

m-W
m-W

To paraphrase our former president: you're either with Marcus Thornton, or you're against the Hornets.

42
42

I paraphrased another former lord high muckity muck yesterday: you go to christmas with the family you have, not the family you want.

JCS
JCS

@Joe G. I was out of the house and forgot to record the game. How did your boy, Aaron Gray do?

Mazon
Mazon

Dear Marcus Thornton, I love you! May I give birth to your children?? Love, Mazon ps. Zero turnovers for the leagues best pg.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

what kills me about this whole marcus not playing due to defense thing is that some of our most painful losses were to teams with no shooting guard where our team went stagnant on offense and we just got rolled over. Mainly talking about the spurs and the thunder, only a fool is scared of thabo sefolosha going off, due to the fact hes probably the worst offense shooting guard in the nba (good defensively though), and the spurs got who george hill, im shaking, and when they put manu in put our little ron artest aka Marco in there. I am tired of seeing empty trips and missed shots i love defense believe me, fav football teams lsu and the steelers defense is my life, but unless we score more than the other team we cant win

paul
paul

Hmmmm... After enjoying the night and lots of the above thought, I need to be sober. First, now we still have Monty. Last night he still was slow to give Thornton his minutes until he thought the night dead. Thornton again was playing as if any minute he was going to be sat. His game really took off once he began to pay more attention to the floor than the bench. This WAS a lowly team to fall down by 20 plus points. I still can't get that nightmare out from my head. WHY!? Why did Monty come into this game against this team with the battle plan he did? Why, knowing you need to play against a huge center do you bring in the skinny Andersen? If you want to inactivate Gray, do it against a faster team like Miami, not THIS team! This is exactly the game you call down the bench for Gray. These things are still haunting me. What Monty do we have?

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All valid points and questions. I try to chalk some things up to learning by Monty, and other things to teaching. If these don't hold up, I'll call it a mistake. Maybe he needed Ariza to `feel the pain' or something (teaching). Maybe he needed to be put into an extreme position to go against his best instincts (learning). Let's see how things unfold, but hopefully this will be the start of some additional development for the team.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

Start marcus plain and simple. Its just as easy to make a substitution and take him out if things go bad but it just makes to much sense. Rotate ariza on their bets offensive weapon unless that person is pf or center and finally start scoring. I think the added offense from marcus with the right defensive rotations can make up for most defensive short comings from marcus. and hey if it doesnt call one of those magic timeouts and take him out. Also the big issue right now is attendance and it is no secret that marcus is the hornets fan bases's favorite player second only to cp. When he gets in the game and his name is called people go wild, i think it could help put a few more butts in the seats if we made the switch to start marcus. Id even like to see belinelli play some brief minutes at small forward for some serious spreading of the court with marcus and cp out there and david thats some serious offensive options

stormsurgephoto
stormsurgephoto

New Hornets license plate frame given to me by Joe: 1 Wins since that gift was give: 1 You do the math

F******
F******

Okafor gets called for so many illegal screens that actually look damn solid. The coaches ask for screens like that. I guess he just has no lobby with the refs. Shut some of those stupid whistles up refs!!!

Jochbe
Jochbe

I also think the screens are actually illegal--he has a tendency to throw his hips into the defensive player. I don't know about consistency or lack thereof in the calls...We need some data on this--my guess is that the league is cracking down on illegal screens, because (I think) I have been seeing them called a lot this year across all teams...

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I tend to think the screens are illegal, but I see inconsistent calling. I'm not saying it's imbalanced between team, but imbalanced between refs/games. It could be the opposition attacking the screen, which I can't assess that well, that `causes' the offensive foul. I tend to think, however, that it's Okafor setting a screen, having it deemed legal throughout a game, then repeating the process the next game. In some games, however, that is called an offensive foul, likely of the `lean into' variety. When he slacks, he gets fussed at or it's ineffective, etc. It just seems there are `moving screen' games on both sides or not. Consistency from screen to screen is another matter, but I see it as about even in terms of misses-for and misses-against. I'll try to make a mental note. Actually, the Jazz game may be a good test.

Kyle
Kyle

Since I would only be echoing the other comments about how amazing Marcus and the rest of the game was, I just want to say I completely agree with your take on the halftime show lol. The only thing I could figure was it was a financial move because the Hornets are getting paid by the kids' parents instead of hiring somebody. haha Welcome back, Marcus! I hope you're here to stay!!!

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

you hit the nail on the head. Yes you can pay to be the halftime or pregame entertainment. They may be cutting a discount right now, as NOTHING will ever be worse than the Zumba demo a couple weeks ago. I am waiting to see Richard Simmons out there "Sweating to the Oldies" after that B.S.

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

True story- I started writing about the comeback when we were still 18 down.

okijeff
okijeff

Do it again next time we are down big. You got the magic touch! : )

QueenBee
QueenBee

What a great comeback! I had THE BEST TIME! Marcus Thornton is a beast!

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

@sundance and James Online MY NUTZ ! YOUR FACE ! For the last damn month you have been bashing my pro-Thornton arguments and all I kept saying was to give the damn kid a chance. Tonight, I got drunk and did some things I'm not proud of. Namely, booing Belinelli from section 321 every time he touched the ball. Booing Monty Williams in pre-game intro's. It just boiled over and I had had a damn nuff of this crap. Oh man! I can not tell you how happy I am right now. The whole time the comeback was happening. I just said to myself, let this happen for Marcus and let this happen for the Hornets. It had to! Anything short of a win was unacceptable because Monty needed some Marcus nutz in his face for a night and this crowd needed to be reminded of how exciting a Hornets game can be. You do realize, that for one night, Marcus was the savior of this basketball team you people kept saying he wasn't. Defense? I counted ONE major defensive lapse and SEVERAL plays where he played PHENOMENAL help defense. Don't tell me the difference between Belinelli's and Thornton's D is that gaping. For one night, and one decent sample size, it wasn't. You do also realize that this is CP3's first 20-10 game in a damn long time, even after a terrible statistical first half. Coincidence? F*** NO! You do realize David West got 7 dimes tonight. Coincidence? F*** NO!

Stew
Stew

Holy crap, man. I was the guy sitting right in front of you in Section 321 row 1, seat 15. i was with my sister. You were hilarious (as were the guys that attempted to heckle you). The booing of Belli made my sis a little uncomfortable (she loves him), but I knew exactly where you were coming from. Marcus took that game over, and had he not been put in, it would have been a 30+ point loss for the bees. PLAY MARCUS THORNTON!

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

Nice to see you on 247 Stew! Let your sister know that I do not dislike Marco Belinelli. There just has to be a face to this madness that is Monty Williams rotation and Belinelli has to bear the brunt of that burden along with Monty. There just simply has to be face to this madness that Monty will recognize displeasure by the fan base. I was absolutely digging the Belinelli-Paul-Thornton backcourt as I think height is overrated on defense in a lot of cases. You are very rarely going to block a jump shooter. You just need to stay in front of your man and get a hand in his face without fouling. Ariza still needs to be there to shut down guys like Bryant-James-Durant obviously but I think the Belinelli-Thornton-Paul lineup deserves at least 5-10 minutes a game together on most nights, at least for now.

NolaHog
NolaHog

Bees is correct. Even most Marcus fans would mock the "savior" status that Bees has been giving to him. But let's face it, he is the potential savior for this season. We know we have some good pieces in place, but the league has finally figured out a way to game plan for us. Marcus adds the extra dimension that can put us back ahead of our competitors. Does that make us champions this year? No, I'm not saying that. What it does is make us a team that's feared. Because let's face it, going into this game we had been relegated to the group of NBA teams that good teams should beat (i.e. Sacramento, Detroit, Golden State, etc.). With Marcus, that changes. This dude knows how to score. Mark said it best tonight about him having no other talent than scoring. . . but what a talent it is! I think he's most valuable coming off the bench to give scoring punch and hustle when the starting unit sputters.

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I think we need as many `saviors' as we can get, and we need a number of cohesive units we can deploy so that when we do the matchup thing, we aren't a mish-mash. Monty and Marcus meeting in the middle may mean more matchups.

Bug Marley
Bug Marley

Bee, drink moderately next time. LOL. But if that's what it takes to make the Hornets win, I'll be more than happy to be as smashed as you every time the Hornets play.

NOH Domination
NOH Domination

Marcus had a hard time staying with Udrih for most of the 3rd quarter, but then again Udrih was playing pretty well. Great game from Marcus, but there is room for improvement (DEFENSE!!!!)

sundance
sundance

I'm not one to have the last word so you can dump on me all you want after this. Not once have I dissed Marcus as a player. (I admit I called Willie Green a pig with lipstick.) I said he was going to be disadvantaged against bigger SGs, that's all. Marcus and Marco are two very different types of players and on paper they're both important to the success of this team. But if one's not producing, then it's up to Monty to minimize the role of one while maximizing the other.

okijeff
okijeff

Lol!!! Bees... good shit. Now all MT5 haters can shut the hell up.

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

Oh, and how bout the manly man offensive rebound he had to ice the game? Only fitting...what a night...

SJ
SJ

Marcus Thorton does not need to be on the bench, people are always complaining that he gives up more points on defense than he gets himself. Lets take as an assumption that's true, can you really say that Ariza or Bellenilli do not? A good defender that can't score isn't better than an Offensive powerhouse that can't defend. Difference is good offense will win you games, good defense will get you 90-75 losses.

m-W
m-W

Joe, great post. You really captured exactly what this game was about. Marcus Buckets. He was a one man wrecking crew. As you said, it was both on offense and defense. Also, even the things he did wrong were right. Like when he drove hard to the rim, drew all defenders, missed the shot, but someone else tipped it out and Chris ended up with it and drove in for the lay in. It was a play created by Marcus' aggressiveness. MT5 = all that is right about basketball. Hopefully, Monty's eyes were wide open tonight.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Like Mike, I am happy for Marcus. This was a great opportunity for him, and he actually showed that IN A ZONE defense, he can cover his rotation. But there are a few things that I still want to see from him. 1. Can he play man to man defense against SG's, and not force CP to have to guard guys like Tyreke Evans. His lapses on defense were when he had to face his man up, and rather than drop his foot to slide and force his man a direction, he back peddles. 2. If he's going to play 24 minutes, can he please get more than 0 assists. Thats just not acceptable. The "lapses" on offense were when he forced shots. I KNOW he can score. But if the guy learned how to give a drop pass when he drove, or dish to a man in the corner, he'd ONLY force the defense to be honest. Beno Udrih KNEW he was going up on that one possession when he ripped him. If Marcus will do these things, he can play on this team. But there are a few things that need to be pointed out, and need to be remembered. 1. This performance was against the Sacramento Kings. A team that has a coach that has absolutely NO concept of creating a defensive, or offensive system. Paul Westphal is terrible, and in my honest opinion, the 2nd worst coach in the league behind Kuester in Detroit. Playing against the Kings, every team finds wide open lanes into the paint. And playing against the Kings, every team finds it pretty easy to read their isolation plays, and lack of a true offensive system. 2. Marcus Thornton is still our best trading chip behind Chris Paul and David West. And I can't help but SERIOUSLY wonder if maybe.... Just MAYBE... He was being showcased to the Kings, a potential trading parter??? Think about it.

DownUnder
DownUnder

Can i just say to your fair oppinion on Marcus's performance against the Kings (im one of the guys that gave u a thumbs up) that it shouldn't take away what he did to much, I mean David West, Marco, Trevor and Jarrett Jack all had terrible shooting performances and just the other night Shane Battier and Kevin Martin both had terrible performances against them. So its not like this Kings defense is giving up career best shooting performances aswell, they did limit us to 31% in the first half not to mention what I think was a 37% game performance against them last time.

NOH Domination
NOH Domination

I wouldnt mind seeing Caspi or Jason Thompson in a Hornet uni. Especially the sweet alts :)

Hornetsky
Hornetsky

Great win for the hornets. The answer to our offensive woes is MT5. On to the next game.

tyler
tyler

You all may hate me for this but I think we need a bigger center and a better smallforward.

ktrufant
ktrufant

the Hornets have some size on the bench but for the time being Okafor is the best center available (the bench back-ups are taller but I wouldn't like to see either start ... ) and so until they manage to kidnap Chandler 2.0 (the Healthy CFRM) from Dallas or Demps dupes some dopey team with dynamite center, Okafor is the best option (second best player on the team). I don' think Ariza is that much of a liability either ... why do you think folks will hate you?

tyler
tyler

Cause untill we get those two we are not goinng nowhere

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

you're right i do hate you for it ;-) I respectably disagree.

pschafer
pschafer

My first time out to the Arena this season when I actually bought my own tix. Brought two other folks with me, and it was a fantastic turnaround in the seconde half. Marcus was awesome!

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42

Thanks.

Rizzy
Rizzy

How fitting that MT5 was on today's game day banner and just goes off in the game and basically validate what the fans already knew. I hope Monty catches on lol.

clutch19
clutch19

Great win for the Hornets. Some type of move definitely has to be made. im beginning to wonder if Thornton will get more minutes only to increase his trade value. i.e Peja. regardless, happy to pull out the win tonight..

NolaHog
NolaHog

Thornton, you MAGNIFICENT BASTARD! I will only refer to him from this day forward as "Basketball Rainman."

Go Blue
Go Blue

According to NBA.com only 13,325 in attendance..............

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Im gonna go with "only" as well. If we factor in the $30,000 the business council spent on this game, that means around 3,000 tickets bought by them. So that would put tickets really bought around the Charlotte game. I think it will begin to turn around, but thank God for people contributing to saveourhornets.com and things like the Business Council. We couldn't afford to go in the hole another 3,000 tickets in this game.

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Yup. The populace did very little to step up it's game last night. Nevertheless, they filled about 1/3 of the `hole' in the attendance. Another ~2,000 tickets will be sprinkled throughout this month and next. We'll have a sellout with the Lakers, and another high-attendance game (maybe a sellout) with the Magic. A Saturday Spurs game should be a decent draw. Hopefully the holiday plans will fill in some, and we'll get a little surge on top of the natural increase in attendance over time (just through sales efforts, as these progress through the season). The updated 11-game target is 15,025, and increase of 142 per game. Calling the Lakers a 17,188 game, the Magic a 16,000 game, and factoring in the 2,000 tickets from the BCNO, we need `the folk' to average 14,454 in the other 9 games . . . or have more corporate sponsorship. Our weekend games have been around this level. We have 3 of those, two of which have a good reason to bump higher: The Hawks (holiday, saints pep rally?) and The Spurs (not against football, they are popular). The Jazz will be in the 14k's probably. Those games are `not hurt' games, but we'll have to see if they are `help' games. The other 6 will be since Monday or Wednesday (low draw) games. The Lakers and Orlando may manage to draw more than my estimates which will help. Toronto is a holiday game, so that may help. The Thunder could draw some folks, as they are good team with up-and-comers, and that is crunch time . . .

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42

Compare that to the recent Wednesday games and maybe retract that 'only'.

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I assumed. I'm trying to give you a very valid perspective for viewing it positively rather than negatively.

Go Blue
Go Blue

I said "only" because of the need to avg. 14,883 per game. Go Hornets!!