Hornets get back on winning track, take down the Nets

By:
Published: December 22, 2010

The Hornets started out the game red hot, shooting over 60 percent in the first half. Despite that offensive effort, however, New Orleans only led by 4 points with four seconds left in the first half. Off an inbounds play the Hornets set up a three-pointer for West, who drilled it at the buzzer and sent the Hornets into the locker room with all the momentum. They came out like gangbusters in the third, winning the quarter 26-13 and never looked back, winning the contest 105-91.

CP3 and West were both sensational in this game, but Monty Williams is used to that. He has called out for a third guy to join them so this team could return to the elite status it appeared to be enjoying earlier in the year. Not one, not two, but three guys answered the bell tonight as Marco Belinelli, Emeka Okafor, and the “Banner Man” himself- Marcus Thornton all had terrific games. Put it this way, if those guys all play like that, Ariza can keep putting up these 3-11 type efforts and it won’t matter.

Belinelli was 6-8 and finished with 14 points while Marcus Thornton provided a spark off the bench, going 7-10 (and 4 for 5 from deep!) as he finished with 18 points. The star of the game, however, was Emeka Okafor. Not only did he score 21 points while pulling down 10 boards, but he played fantastic one-on-one defense on Lopez, while also providing some great weak side support for his teammates. The box score will say he only blocked one shot, but he changed several others and his position pushed guys out of their comfort zones and forced them to take shots they didn’t want to take.

On the Nets side, Devin Harris did a good job attacking the rim, as he finished with 21 points and 8 assists. Brooke Lopez did score 16 points, but it took him 16 shots to do so, and he only grabbed 4 rebounds, mostly because of Okafor’s positioning.

The Hornets moved to 17-12 overall on the season, including a rather impressive 12-3 at home and they will have the next three days off to enjoy with their families before welcoming the Hawks in on Sunday.

Other Notes and Observations:

– Quite possibly the best first quarter I have seen Chris Paul play in a month. Of the Hornets first 5 buckets, he assisted on 4 of them. He also attacked the rim early and often and set Kris Humphries up on a sick crossover. I know CP3 and Reggie Bush are good friends, and I am sure he did that just for his boy. Paul finished the game with 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting and a 14:1 assist to turnover ratio. Typical CP3.

– The box score will say Jarrett Jack was 2 for 6 and scored 7 points, but this game told me a lot more than that. He just seems so much more confident and he is starting to know where his teammates will be. Remember those long cross court passes and poor decisions? They are gone for the most part and I really think that by February he will be 100% adjusted to this team and come playoff time we will have the best PG duo in the league, no question.

– Ariza hit two more shots than he did Monday, but he still looked awful out there on the offensive end. The lowlight of the night was a wide open alley-oop off a beautifully designed play that he flubbed. Caught the pass from CP3 and couldn’t decide whether to lay it in off the glass or dunk it- so he did neither and just missed it. His body language is just horrible as well, as he doesn’t even seem to want the ball when it is being whipped around in the half court. It seems to me that Ariza is what I have heard called a “confidence player” and he just doesn’t have any of it right now.

– Stephen Graham averages less than 3 PPG. He comes out in the first quarter and scores seven. This drives me crazy, anyone else? Look, I don’t mind getting beat by the other teams’ best guys, but I just lose it when scrubs have the games of their lives against us. Next up- Atlanta. Anybody willing to bet Al Horford misses the game due to some Christmas food poisoning and Josh Powell erupts for 20 and 10 against us?

– Attendance for tonight: 15,423. I like it, especially for a Wednesday night against a bad team. Save Our Hornets is doing their part, as is the city and the fans. Just a couple more games to go in order to reach the benchmark. I beelieve!

– My take on the uber-talented rook Derrick Favors? Glad you asked. The guy will be a very good player in the league for years to come, but he will never be elite because he lacks the quick jump and second jump abilities that big men who rely on athleticism must have to be the elite of the elite. Long power forwards don’t necessarily need that, nor do the Tim Duncan’s of the world, but Favors is not the biggest power forward and he will never have a Tim Duncan like basketball IQ. He is young Amare without the elite hops.

I am not trashing the guy, I am just saying his ceiling is not limitless (i.e. He is no Blake Griffin). Maybe one or two All-Star appearances, but likely not. Just a good power forward in the mold of an Antonio McDyess or Shereef Abdur-Rahim production wise. Long story short, I would include him for Melo if I am NJ and Melo will sign the extension.

58 comments
JCS
JCS

Wow. We crushed the Jersey Boys. Kind of upset I missed this game, b/c CP and Banner Man had such a good night. Someone told me that once CP got his 14th assist, he tweeted the Russian Billionaire, "do you want fries with that?" Ha!

bgalella
bgalella

Marcus Thornton should keep getting some minutes, he's proven he can be the 3rd guy for this team.

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

Thorn-ton! Ban-ner! Clap clap clap-clap-clap!

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

I agree, I think he needs to be a part of every banner in some way. Even if he is a phantom image behind someone else. LOL

QueenBee
QueenBee

I liked that Fratello and Eagle made a point to notice and mention Chris Paul's huddle in the lane to tell his team to get in gear.

chris johnson
chris johnson

anyone els notice pauls bulky kneebrace was gone? i think its no coincidence that he is quicker without it!

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

I was waiting on the, "So, why do you guys suck so much and why haven't you guys started committing ritual suicide for making us watch your game."

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Good Night, that interviewer was asking some tough questions. I think he wanted Lopez to say he and the Nets were little school girls who needed help finding their mommies. Damn, NY media doesn't play. And this wasn't even an important game that would warrant the "playoff loss" style tough questions. HAHA Kudos to Lopez for not walking from that interview. Good diplomatic answers.

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

I hate to nitpick, but Monty's rotations are absolutely confusing at times. Why are the starters coming back into the game with 6 minutes left up 22 (and getting whooped at that)? I thought CP3 considered it a blessing to not have to play the 4th quarter. IF MARCUS THORNTON CAN'T GET 25-30 MINUTES WITHOUT WILLIE GREEN WHEN HE'S DROPPING A POINT A FREAKING MINUTE, WHEN WILL HE? GOD!!!!! IT'S SO FRUSTRATING. Monty wants people to step up? Uhh? Uhh? Open your eyes!

MaxALM
MaxALM

I agree with you, but I'd like to think that Monty is taking baby steps w/ Marcus to be sure that he can be trusted on both ends of the court, as well as play within the flow of the offense. He's doing both of those things well. But as Marcus continues his supernatural ability to earn a point per minute, I would expect to see him play major minutes in the future.

42
42

It's a Christmas Eve Eve miracle!

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Max, we actually agree on something.

NolaHog
NolaHog

Ariza's confidence is clearly shaken. At the end of the game, Paul was trying to set him up with some wide open looks, and Ariza clearly wanted no part of it. Also, I liked watching Thornton and Vujavic (sp?) get into a little mano y mano battle there in the second half, with Sasha hitting a couple of jumpers after running Marcus through a lot of picks, and Marcus answering with the dribble down and pull up three right in Sasha's face! He's like, "No picks required, dude." Also, I thought the Hornets "Xmas in Hollis" rap video was really funny, and all of the holiday stuff showcased at the Hive tonight was mildly cheesy but quite endearing. On a final note, I think the Honeybees must have a new choreographer this year, because their dance numbers are clearly better than they've been in years past. Is Monty coaching them as well?

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

I like Sasha. And I woulda liked him as a shooter on our team too. Guys full of energy.

42
42

Good call on Rondo. Sam Cassell = Gollum?

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

im normally kinda there with you ziko but i love watchin the lakers and i know sasha's game well. pass a million times dudes a winer and hes not better than willie, marcus, quincy no need for a player like that

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

You're right 42. Thoughts and prayers go out to all those who've lost loved ones. Deron Williams is ugly. Rondo looks like an Alien. Not the cool kind. But the little booger kind you want to flick with your fingers. (just wanted to throw that one in). Kobe's wife is hott but way superficial. The Heat will be an embarassment compared to their hype. The Laker and Celts will probably meet in the finals again (unless Denver decided to just give us Melo). And a partridge in a pair tree.... I mean. Sorry Steven. Lets bury this? I think we're both die hard Hornet fans who have tons of basketball knowledge, but look at things from different angles. Cool?

42
42

Guys, guys, let's remember we're on the same side, fogetting the holiday. If you feel the need to attack a player... feel free, they get paid those ducats for that reason among others. Honor the moratorium on Willie, Carmelo, and anyone I'm forgetting. If you feel the need to attack a fellow Hornets fan (go after JT and his hoops blog all day...), try to channel your energy in better ways: Discuss how hideous Deron Williams is Wax on about why Kobe's wife has that pink diamond Ponder how easy it would be to become LeBron's stepfather if you only could summon the will to wreck your hair Smile about how while Dwyane Wade put together the Warmth for a year, that they won't win a title, your name is spelled more sensibly than his, that he has to say "how high" when his ex says "jump," and how she'd keep any trophy he won.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

P.S. Honestly, Sasha's one of the nicest and most approachable guys in the league. And I know him well enough to say that. Such an ignorant comment. And how is he a loser? He's got 2 rings now, and contributed a lot to the Lakers. P.P.S.S. His GF is smoking hot, and an absolute sweetheart.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

How could you say something like that? That has no basis what so ever. Guys a great shooter. And plays really hard on both ends. I didn't say I'd want him to start. But he's a solid bench player. He didn't get off the bench in LA cuz they were so deep, but for almost every other team (accept for Boston maybe) he'd play 15-30 minutes a game and knock down shots for them. He's emotional on the court. All European players are. It's because we play soccer too. We can't help it.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

Anyone who likes or roots for sasha is gay.... i think thats the best word for it ... sasha is awful and the biggest baby/whiner/loser

QueenBee
QueenBee

"....and Marcus answering with the dribble down and pull up three right in Sasha’s face! He’s like, “No picks required, dude.” Hahaha!

42
42

You think he's pulling a Haslett? Nah . . . Marcus gave Sasha nice shove, too. That seemed to sort of end the battle. He's soft, Sasha.

QueenBee
QueenBee

LOL @ Sasha! Nets commentators mentioned something about Sasha bothering Marcus and I'm like nah dude, he ain't bothering Marcus. LOL!

hornetsfan989
hornetsfan989

dont know if anyone else noticed but chris paul was not wearing that bulky kneebrace he has been wearing. he had on what was more like a neopren sleeve than a traditional kneebrace. this really helped his mobility as he seemed to have his old quickness back. also he bumped knees with harris a few times and showed no ill effects. thats a really good sign going forward!

Hornet
Hornet

seriously? i almost wanted to say something but i assumed it was the brace. if you're right that is HUGE news and explains why he was looked quicker.

Hornetsky
Hornetsky

I truly believe that Emeka is the key for us to be succesful. He needs to be consistent and produce that double double night-in-night-out. Plus we need his defense on opposing bigs. As LA and BOS looms (two teams loaded with superb frontcourt), we need Mek to be aggressive on both ends. Beating one of the two will be a treat. Happy Holidays everyone.

Hornetsky
Hornetsky

Yeah. I agree. We actually have an abundance of 7 footers (Mbenga, Smith, Gray). If Monty can just develop them to become good defensive players, especially Gray who I believe have a lot of potential, we can at least confront teams like the lakers, celtics and magic who have elite big men.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

Emeka has the technique to compete with all but the largest and quickest big men. If he would successfully work on catching with strong hands in the post he would be elite. However, to compete against Orlando, Boston, and LA we will need either Mbenga or Gray to be activated and active. I really like what I'm seeing from Mbenga. He is active and quick, challenges shots, and is eager to play help defense. He seems to lose his man more often than Mek, and doesn't seem to be very aware on the offensive end. I do like his free throw style so far. I've been a fan of Gray before, but he has looked lost the few times he made the court this year. I'd like to see him picking up garbage minutes rather than Anderson, so that he finds his way. Anderson is a known quantity that we can stash on the bench in case of injury. Gray needs to work.

f.g. di bene
f.g. di bene

good game... i liked the intensity of the team, especially on offensive end. if marcus can keep up with his offense and work hard on defense he can be a real threat off the bench, the hornets needs him badly in the second unit.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

I liked everything about tonight except for ariza still trying to be an offensive threat. he just isnt one. Marcus came up big i liked his minutes and we need to keep getting okafor involved he is the key along with thorton to this team. a side note... i went to the clippers game tonight and ike diogu actually looked decent. took a lot of shots but it was his first game in over a year and he looked pretty nice

Mark
Mark

Garland, TX represent! Ike has always been a statistical anomaly. Too bad he wasn't healthy or that we didn't resign him. He could have been a potential PF spark plug off the bench.

pschafer
pschafer

I walked up to buy tickets with a buddy of mine about ten minutes before tip off. We wanted to get cheap upper level seats (with a plan to move to better seats if possible), but were told the entire upper level was sold out. This was clearly a Save Our Hornets deal, because there were fans in only about 2/3 of the upper bowl, and many of these were very late arriving. That's cool, I suppose, but it's a shame to see so many seats that are "sold" but empty of real persons. In any event, it was a good crowd and a great win.

QueenBee
QueenBee

Nice way to go into the holiday! Thanks Hornets! Happy Holidays!

42
42

Emeka's defense was very good. One thing that was bugging me was that the Nets defenders just were not honoring our outside shooters early. You have to get the ball out to those guys and they have to shoot, percentages aside, so that the scheme works. Failing to do so invites the double/triple teams, more often when the weak side defenders can come help when someone tries to drive. Sure, if Ariza is shooting like Stevie Wonder, it may not help much, but you have to do it. We got a little better with it in the second half and I think it helped. Of course, maybe e.g. Marco was open for those shots because of how we played early. Regardless, you can't establish a pattern or the enemy can take small advantages on the ends of those runs.

Brazilian Hornet
Brazilian Hornet

Nice win. Now comes the most difficult: to keep that attitude and that level in the game next Sunday. And take this opportunity to let the Christmas greetings to all members of Hornets247. Geaux Hornets!

Hornet
Hornet

The bench looks sooooo much better with Thornton than with Green. Not even talking about MT. The entire bench play just seems more fluid and more effective. Demps, if you can pull off Ariza + Green for Wallace and use the TPE to take in a bad contract or two so Charlotte does it, then you are God.

42
42

No bad contracts.

42
42

Boo!

paul
paul

42... People sure do forget about earlier compliants. You are so right. Actually, sometimes you scare me. Please explain the DJ Gray remarks. I am not smart enough to unerstand the financial part of the game and am especially confused my not only Grays role on this team, but his options. Looking forward to your information, 42.

42
42

I see where you are coming from, but there is no win now possibility out there. I just think this is a better way to be as good as another other team that could get Chris in 2 years. I could be wrong, no doubt.

Hornet
Hornet

I'd usually agree with you but we have about 2 years to try and get to the finals or else we're going to have to end up starting over when Paul leaves (if we aren't contenders, he's gone). We need to be in a win now mode and I don't know if I like the whole idea of waiting around for the new CBA to come around and determine what we decide to do.

42
42

It's tremendously short-sighted. Right now be complain about Emeka and Ariza. Remember when we used to complain about Peja, Mo, Posey, Songaila, and Emeka? I do. I remember it very well. There is no reason to take a bad contract. Banks is expiring. We aren't using him now, but he's not hurting us later. Fine. We have $51m in committed salary next year assuming D and Gray pick up their player options and the Pops is retained. That will be spent on 8 players, none of which are named Marcus, Marco, Willie, or Jason. We'll have to sign a few guys to meet the roster minimum (assuming it remains, and employing 12-15 guys is just smart). A hard cap is coming. Piling up good players and overpaying now could be a good strategy, but bad contracts will feel doubly burdensome under the new CBA, regardless of the details, that much is clear. No move we could make this year, even landing Melo for Ariza, Marcus, a pick, and expirings/exception, is going to land us a title this year. Therefore, there is no need to take on a bad contract that's going to hurt us when it could have been possible to win one, maybe in the next couple of years depending on how destructive the CBA is to the powerhouse teams. Hopefully, it rocks them to their cores.

Hornet
Hornet

What for? We're not going to sign any free agents at all with the cap space we have (or the ownership situation) and getting Wallace would get rid of any tradeable assets that we'd want to move so it'd be a final move.

DownUnder
DownUnder

If Marcus keeps this up can we expect a sophomore appearance from Buckets this year or some nominations for sixth man? And that crowd size would have been above the average required over the next games that are counted correct?

Mark
Mark

Buckets needs minutes. As well as he's playing in limited minutes, he needs to be on court 20+ minutes a game to prove the voters. I'd like him to have Sixth Man minutes a la Ginobili or Terry (i.e. playing 30 minutes a game off the bench), but I'll take baby steps for now.

42
42

Yes.

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

Gonna be interesting to see what happens when Green gets back. Will MT5 take a backseat? Would you say "The Hornets tore down the Nets?" Heyyy-oooooooh