He’s Back: Thornton Fuels Hornets Comeback Victory

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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.

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?

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!!!

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!!!

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

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

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!

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.

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.

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!

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..............

George
George

I didn't even notice but D-West ended up with 7 assists

Chris
Chris

Post the video of Marcus' swat?

Mark
Mark

Buckets reminds me of early Gilbert. Too short to be a SG. Too offensive to be a PG. No discernible talent except scoring... but what a talent that is. All-around O game with a pretty jumper, aggressive mindset, and a confidence borderline brash. If Monta Ellis has taught us anything, it's that a ballplayer is a ballplayer. If a player is good, he will find a way to play his game, size be damned. The Hornets have shown our offense is inconsistent throughout this season, and what better way than to re-energize the crowd and rekindle our love for Buckets. And hats off to CP for going to the charity stripe 13 FTs (92%). That's aggressive.

da_freshness
da_freshness

Hopefully with More minutes and More performances like this, Marcus could get in the rookie/sophmore game ( If he does, I think It will be him making his name known in the NBA.)

MaxALM
MaxALM

Dear Marcus doubters: TOLD. YOU. SO.

NOLABanks96
NOLABanks96

i wudnt mind seein Ariza & Bellinelli sparking off the bench. We jus need to make a move for a good 3guard. Someone who can create a shot and play some solid defense

Go Blue
Go Blue

I REALLY hope this game will spark the Hornets and Monty will let Marcus play more.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I am excited about MT5, but am equally worried about Ariza and Belly. We need to get this team clicking on ALL cylinders if we want to beat teams better than Sacramento (at home no less). That said, imagine this team with a competant Belly/Ariza combo starting and firepower off the bench. I didn't like everything I saw from Marcus tonight, but he definitely has earned a spot in the rotation and hopefully he will continue to progress and the Hornets can get a big who can actually block or at least change some shots.

Joe P
Joe P

Where y'at, James Online?

mbdtf
mbdtf

Stat of the night: Marcus Thorton... +22 for the Hornets while he was in the game.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

thank god i stuck through watching this POS game and im loving it. NEW ORLEANS!!!! marcus 4 life