Hornets Survive the Magic in a Thriller

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Published: January 12, 2011

In a game that will surely be remembered by everyone in attendance, the Hornets survived a barrage of threes by the Magic late in the fourth quarter to escape with a much needed victory. MVP goes to Emeka Okafor, who despite being outplayed by Dwight Howard, did enough to get his team the victory. The final score was Hornets 92-Magic 89.

Despite a 6-0 start to the game, things got scary early on for the Hornets. First off, Marco Belinelli suffered a game ending ankle tweak only a minute in. Then the Magic started playing their usual basketball and took a fairly substantial lead. With a minute gone in the second quarter the Magic were up by eight and the Hornets looked out of sync on both ends of the floor.

Enter Marcus Thornton.

Buckets was the difference maker in the first half tonight, playing 14 big minutes and scoring ten points to go along with four rebounds. His timing was perfect, as a couple athletic drives to hoop resulted in pretty buckets, energizing a crowd that seemed on the verge of turning on what was at the point a fairly apathetic Hornets team. It took him ten shots to get those ten points, but one of them was a desperate heave to beat the shot clock that barely found the backboard.

The second half wasn’t as kind to him, but make no mistake- Without his play in the first half the game could have gone much differently. The one glaring negative in his game tonight was his three point shooting. He went 0-5 before knocking one down with nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and two of the misses had the potential to put the Hornets up by double figures.

He had a straight hustle play in 8:15 to go in the fourth quarter. With the shot clock dwindling Jarret Jack threw up a prayer which somehow caught some rim. Marcus ran to the corner, caught the ball while falling out of bounds, and pegged it off a Magic player. Hornets ball. They wasted the extra possession, but it was nice to see nonetheless.

With 4:06 to go in the fourth the Hornets held a razor thin 2 point lead, 74-72. Marcus Thornton entered the game, and Hornets fans got to see the closing lineup that so many of us thought we would before the season started. The first time he touched the ball was on a one on one break, and he drew a rare foul (he had only taken only 22 free throws on the year prior to tonight), knocking down both free throws in the aftermath.

Jason Richardson knocked down a big three pointer to pull the Magic back within four with just over a minute to play. Then Okafor got fouled and stepped up to take two big free throws. He was 1/6 at the time and clearly didn’t have a lot of confidence, but he stepped up and made the first one. Huge. That’s what happens when you practice as hard as anyone else in the league. True, he missed the second, and the Hornets got screwed around on the subsequent out of bounds call, but that first one was big. Missing both could have really affected the team’s confidence.

Down five the Magic gave the ball to Jason Richardson who knocked down yet another three, taking about two seconds to do so. All of a sudden the lead, which was seven only 20 seconds earlier, was all of a sudden down to just two. The crowd stood up for the final time, and loudness ensued.

Paul wasted 22 seconds of time, and then missed a shot. Guess who came up with the big rebound? BUCKETS! Well, Okafor sort of got it. I’m not sure who actually got credit, but Marcus was crucial in us retaining the ball.

As the Magic fouled Paul he desperately tried to get off one of his patented three foul shot shots, but was unable to successfully plead his case to the ref. He made one of two free throws and the lead was three. Then Hedo knocked down a wide open trey, tying the game up with seven seconds to go.

So obviously Chris Paul is going to shoot it, right? Yup! Oh wait, no! No! NO! He passed it to David west for a contested jumper! Nooooooooooooo! <– You know you thought this exact thing.

Overtime

The Magic went right at Okafor to start overtime, successfully I might add. Marcus answered with a tree, and then Dwight dunked yet another ball home on the other end. After Marcus barely missed a driving layup, Ariza made a real heads up play and took a charge. Paul then missed an easy jumper after a sweet move and yet again Howard put the ball in the basket.

Okafor answered on the other end after another missed Buckets layup. The Hornets caused the Magic to commit a shot clock violation on the other end that resulted in double technicals for Paul and Brandon Bass. Either way, the Hornets gotthe ball down one with two minutes to go.

Ariza made a nice cut for an easy layup to take the lead, but Richardson would answer with a driving layup to take it back. Then Marcus knocked down a huge jumper to a thunderous ovation with 34 seconds to go. Hornets 90, Magic 89.

After a series of fouls, Dwight Howard stepped up to the line with 11.6 seconds to go. Blink. Brick number one! AND BRICK NUMBER TWO! BOOMSHAKALAKA.

Shakalaka

Laka.

After a sweet inbound pass (nah I’m just kidding), Paul got fouled. Next time it was Thornton. Marcus headed to the line with a one point lead and eight seconds to go. Swish. Almost swish but still in. Three point lead. It was a great feeling watching him be the difference maker in overtime. Hopefully there is more to come.

Reddick missed the game tying three and Paul threw the ball in the air as the Hornets began celebrating their victory before it even landed.

Howard vs Okafor

At first it looked like Dwight Howard was going to have a typical dominating game against Emeka Okafor. On the offensive end, he did, but Okafor didn’t get discouraged and managed to play relatively well. He finished the first half with 8-5 as opposed to Dwight’s 14-7.

The second half started with some good plays on both ends of the floor by Okafor, and even though Dwight found an open dunk, he wasn’t able to get into the same rhythm he had in the first half offensively. Credit has to go to Okafor, who remained active throughout the game on both ends. He really gave Dwight a taste of his own medicine with all those dunks, and might have changed some minds in the process. Still wish he could finish strong on a regular basis, but tonight was a nice effort.

They battled with 8:45 to go in the fourth for a rebound and when Okafor got the call Howard was visibly upset. He few a technical on Dwight with 2:20 left, adding a valuable point to the Hornets lead. Dwight is obviously not used to Okafor putting up a fight against him. Too bad, big guy. Those days are over (hopefully).

The game ended with Okafor putting up 18-14 and Howard with a whopping 29-20. It seems like a huge difference in production, but considering how Dwight normally destroys Okafor, I was thrilled with the performance of Okafor. I guess I should mention that Emeka finished 2/8 from the free throw line. That’s some quality stuff right there.

Am I actually crediting Okafor for allowing his mark to go for 29-20? Yes. Will I regret that after the excitement wears off? Probably not. It was an impressive performance and he stayed out of foul trouble the entire game. It was key having him in overtime.

Player Notes

  • Thornton finished with 22 points on 18 shots, and nine rebounds. His rebounding remains remarkably improved.
  • Aaron Gray saw some time in the first half, but none of it was against Dwight Howard. Too bad, because I was looking forward to seeing how he did now that he didn’t have a big weight advantage to go with his superior height.
  • Trevor Ariza had a quietly efficient night on both ends. He harassed Hedo on defense for most of the game and managed to score quite a few himself. I didn’t write much about him, but he very well could have been the player of the game on both ends. He finished with 16 points on 12 shots, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. He had only 1 turnover.
  • After Marco got hurt in the first half, it was possible that we would see Marcus Thornton start the second half, but it was Willie Green who trotted out there with the starters. If Marco does miss some time, it appears for now that Willie Green will somehow be a starter yet again. Looking at his numbers it’s pretty incredible how many games he’s started in his career.
  • West (13 points on 18 shots, and 10 rebounds ) just kept staring at Ryan Anderson while knocked down open three pointers. Did he not see the scouting report on the guy?
  • Paul spent most of the game he was focused almost entirely on controlling the tempo, finding open players, and keeping turnovers down. I say this not as a negative, but as a matter of fact. He added in a missed free throw with 15 seconds left, when two would have put the lead at four. He finished with 12 points on 12 shots, 13 assists versus 1 turnover, and 5 rebounds.

Other Game Notes

  • The teams combined for only seven first half free throws and eight personal fouls. They had 19 the rest of the way.
  • In the past I’ve talked about how some of the halftime shows are pretty awesome, and tonight was what I’m talking about. How often do you get to see a soul electric violin player? I’m not saying it’s something I want to go and listen to for two hours at a show, but for 10 minutes in between some hoops it’s great.
  • Remember how in past years we would see three or four players taking absurd shots when warming up? Not this year. Everyone seems a lot more focused on actually getting in the right place mentally.
  • A couple of minor bumps to the head really slowed down the game late in the third quarter. The good thing about head injuries in the NBA is that you can generally tell right away if they are serious or not. These clearly weren’t.
  • Anyone want to say anything about the officiating? I certainly don’t. Who knows what might come out.
  • Attendance was announced at 13,688, a far cry from what is needed. It looked like there were more than that, and there was clearly more traffic to this game than there has been to other games which had low attendance. I saved this for last since it’s crappy news and has no place on this otherwise joyous day.

99 comments
Brazilian Hornet
Brazilian Hornet

Didn't say that Mr. Howard lost his composure and used his elbow against Emeka on several occasions. In two of them, he hit the Okafor's face, and the referees did nothing. When your team is struggling, Mr. Howard begins to play dirty. The referees should already know that. However...

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

LoL. Now 42, I have to ask, are your little two kids, or puppies? Either way, I'm sure Popcorn would do the trick in either case. LoL. I can't use Popcorn. I can't watch the game if I do. Otherwise 2 little 10 lb Papillions with glossy eyes sit right in front of me attentively, desperate for me to flick some their way, begging for the whole bowl to fall... LoL.

42
42

No kids.

42
42

Two women! You overlook that possibility, man . . . Why? Nah, pups, mostly lab, going on 11. You may have heard of them since they are the best dogs in the world and all . . .

Forever504
Forever504

can we just say it marcus had 25 the ref blew the fucking call

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

that was such a b.s. call, i woke up my g/f who was sleeping on the couch b/c i was cheering pretty loudly. then when she wakes up she's like what the f is wrong only for me to yell back at the T.V. that what a f#@#%#? offensive foul!!!

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

ya my gf is almost to that point as well, her dog is scared of me b/c i yell so much during the games and throw things. maybe i need to go to anger management for the hornets or something?

42
42

I started keeping popcorn, etc. as treats during games for my two. I yell, they run, they get treats . . . Eventually it all works out.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

LoL Keymaster. My GF has banished me into the second bedroom to watch games from my laptop from now on because I freak out so much and drive her crazy. She refuses to be near me when I watch games. LoL.

bgalella
bgalella

Marcus Thornton played out of his mind, liked the 22 points, loved the 9 rebounds he was able to chip in, big win for New Orleans.

Gec
Gec

Emeka showed both why i don't like him in a team who want to become a championship one and why i like players like him. He can't compete against longer centers and has an hard time even against SF with long arm and jumping ability on both side of the floor. But he worked very very very hard tonight, he was smart not commiting fool fouls, he battled against Dwight with passion and brain (Howard didn't have those in this game) and in the postgame interview you can see he's really tired not only in a phisical way and shows what a great guy he is.

paul
paul

I projected a win for us last night, but was surprised at how it happened. I think Howard got away with murder last night. I feel he was allowed to play his style, most likely to avaoid getting fouls on our man. When I saw Gray AND MBenga activated, I got chills because I thought I was going to see the Hack a Howard plan. I thought I was going to see that 1972 Bull's mean defense played. Not In Our House mentality. Howard should have awoken today wondering what happened and why the black n blue spots all over his body. He should have lived at the free throw line...bouncing shots off the rim or backboard. Their game plan of Howard First, then pass out to a 3 shooter is all they have. Other than that I was so excited I finished three bottles of red without even noticing!!!!

Gec
Gec

I projected a L. And i was right. We would have lost this game with Belinelli and Willie Green. And it's WRONG that the only offense for them it's howard or three's. Their best way to attack the basketball it's high Pick'n'Roll that lights up all their player and offence. We countered the magic game challenging Howard to take shots and go one on one, their shooters didn't go on cause they never touched the ball and Redick+Nelson bricked. Van Gundy was outcoached in the gameplan imho, they went to overtime because of great treys and some our errors, not for VG adjustments.

Gec
Gec

@AgentZiko : Marcus won the game for us, he did it being active and producing. Marco Belinelli in the NBA cannot produce points, he can score what the team gives to him, and it's not because he's not good or he's stupid but beacause he's not fast and strong enough.. You think that Belinelli could have taken that last rebound in the fourth? No, because he never slashes to the basket and because he's not such an athlete as Marcus. In the OT Marcus simply created his own shots, and even when he misses when he drives he took a lot of attention from the D that Emeka could rebound and dunk it ALONE in the pain. Belinelli can't give that to you on regular basis in this league.

m_W
m_W

@AgentZiko, yes we started the season off well, but with Peja coming off the bench scoring at a super-efficient rate. So with him gone, we need a Marcus. Though, you are correct, Marco could have been a big scorer, last night, we'll never know. @paul, I think the Hornets strategy was solid. Let Dwight get his, avoid letting him foul out your bigs (look what Okafor did on the O end), crash the boards with guards (who were effective) and stay home on your 3 shooters. Normally we choose to give up the 3s, and defend the paint, but against a team that shoots the 3 so well, you can't do that. And despite Dwight's big game, we won, so hats off to the Hornets coaching staff.

paul
paul

If we challenged Howard to make shots...he did well. And we failed. His numbers are off the chart. I don't think that's what happened. I think he had his way inside. Oh, and before another mistakes my opinion on Okafor..I love the Chemistry major! In fact, everything about him speaks well of him. I simply think playing against Howard last night there was a strange plan. If I am wrong, then there would have been a great deal more fouls called as Howard plays brutally with his body. There is no way a smaller center can play hard against him without getting killed with fouls. So, if there aren't fouls getting laid on Okafor, then the refs are turning away or the guy is being let through. Personally, I would not have liked my players to have given him 29 points, 13 of 19 BUT ONLY 7 shot from the line. 3 for 7 (7!!!?) at the line!? That's what we called playing Howard hard? No damn way.

JCS
JCS

cosign w/Ziko

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

This is where I get frustrated with people. I don't get how people can say we would lose if Marco didn't get hurt. There is something that is just wrong with that mentality. What if Marco came out firing and had 22 points on 18 shots and we had won? I bet the conversation would be "Marcus would have scored more on 18 shots". We went 12-1 with Marcus playing limited minutes to start the season. Would we have lost if he had played more? I don't think so.

Jeff
Jeff

after some crowds of 14,000plus against bad teams recently. I was surprised the turnout was so low. can it be due to the new Variable ticket pricing? If all the tickets were priced the same this year, would this game have attracted 16000-17000 fans. I think so.

QueenBee
QueenBee

They had more than that at that game. Looked like there was more there against the Magic than at the game against the Sixers and that game was also a reported 13K.

NolaHog
NolaHog

I knew something special was going to happen when Thornton's Mom sat down in front of me at the game. That lady can yell! She and I made up a very vocal Marcus cheering section. Marcus played great, but I was especially happy for Ariza. He hit some open threes on kickouts, punishing the Magic for collapsing on Paul, and he had two great steals for breakaway dunks. All that, coupled with his usual tough D. This little resurgance has had a lot to do with his improved production. Big win for the Hornets. It would have been easy to collapse after losing that lead at the end of regulation, but Thornton's lack of fear in tense situations made the difference. When Paul or DWest get shut down, no one else on the team except for Thornton seems to want the ball. On a sour note, what was with all of the people that left at the end of regulation? It wasn't a great looking crowd, but it looked like more than 14,000 to me. Is that number based on turnstile numbers, or actual tickets purchased?

42
42

Tickets distributed. I was perplexed by that too.

downnout
downnout

maybe marcus is the 20 ppg sg we all were wishing for

MaxALM
MaxALM

Marcus = MR. CLUTCH. He was THE MAN in overtime. HUGE PLAYS. WOW. it was great to see him take the game over. He rushed a few shots at the 3pt line yeah, but holy SHIT he made some big shots. Drew fouls, hit his open jumpers, created his own shots, and on. This was IMO the BEST GAME OF THE SEASON!!!! Jesus Christ if Marco didn't get injured, i don't know what would've happened. To say one more time, when Marcus gets minutes, HE PRODUCES. Thoroughly outplayed JJ Reddick. Reddick had a bunch of open shots but they were all rushed because those open looks were on the break, when he HAD to rush them. Marcus was the aggressor, and he needs to play. I don't care what "deficiencies" he has on the court. THIS TEAM IS VISIBLY BETTER WHEN HE PLAYS. Team defense=solid as ever. Team offense? Not stagnant. He won the game from a 23 point deficit, and played a crucial role in beating a 9-straight-win Magic team because Marco was injured. When Marcus is given a meaningful role, HE PRODUCES. GIVE HIM THE MINUTES!!!!!

Mark
Mark

I would actually hand the best game of the season to either the first Miami game (when every Hornets fan became optimistic), or better yet the Hornets-Kings game where, essentially, Buckets erased that 23-point deficit. Free Buckets!

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

too bad if bellinelli is cleared to play on friday i'm sure MT will still only play 5 mins since monty probably was looking somewhere else everytime buckets did something positive.

m_W
m_W

Monty said on the radio Marcus wouldn't have played if Belinelli didnt' get injured...crazy.

42
42

Bass is a knob. Howard hit a fadeaway 3 in warmups, then pantomimed high 5's from folks since his teammates didn't react.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

He is a knob. I wonder what the conversation was between him and CP on that double T?

QueenBee
QueenBee

According to Tony Blare at Slam Magazine... "-There’s a scrum for a rebound on the other end and CP3 gives Bass a little sneak punch, then barks at him to back up after the whistle. Both get techs. Kinda ish you love about Chris if you love him." http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2011/01/game-notes-magic-at-hornets-2/ I went back and looked at that moment twice to see what the fuss was about. Didn't see any sneak punch but they were both tussling, flailing for the ball.

42
42

That's what makes it sneaky?

42
42

I thought I heard Chris speculate on the employ of his mother at the time of his conception. I guess Chris has an interest in such things since little CP3-2 is around. It's good that he's always trying to learn to benefit those around him.

NOLABanks96
NOLABanks96

I was thinkingCan we trade gray for Anthony Randolph or Etan Thomas? Matter of fact: Bellinelli & Gray / Dajuan Summers & Wilcox

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

NOLA bud. That trade doesn't make us better. If you're going to give up a starter, make sure you get a starter in return. And either way, wouldn't give up Marco in general.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Aye... No it does it make us deeper. It makes us THINNER. Marco is better than both those guys combined. That trade makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. Trading a starter for 2 guys who average: Summers: 8 min a game, 4 points Wilcox: 13 min a game, 6 points, 3 rebounds Makes no sense what so ever WHEN THEY ARE GETTING THOSE MINUTES AND STATS ON THE DETROIT PISTONS. Come on bud. You can think of something better than this. Marco's the third leading scorer on this team. That trade makes no sense at all. If you really want to clear room for Marcus to play, then look to trade Green, not Marco. Marco brings a dimension to the team we NEED. He's 6'7, long, lanky, a good defender, a good shooter (when he's on, just like Marcus), and he plays really well alongside Paul. Dejuan Summers will be a career NBDL guy. Wilcox is on the down side of his athleticism. It doesn't make us better. It trades away stability. If you're going to trade a guard, trade Green.

NOLABanks96
NOLABanks96

That trade improves our overall depth. Plus, there is no need to keep bellinelli since we have MT5 and Green. On most teams Marco probly wudnt be a starter. Id take wilcox over Gray and Summers has potential to be a good player

m_W
m_W

That's a horrible trade. Randolph and Thomas? Wilcox? Please, I'll take Gray and Beilinelli over any of them.

paul
paul

JCS Francisco Elson!!!! JesusHChrist! He's 34 years old! You want to trade a 7 foot kid 3 years into the NBA for an old man!? Are you freeking nuts!?

paul
paul

JCS You'd only roll dice because you ain't paying for nothing. You get, like all fans, to shout out opinions, then shuffle off quietly while the people with actual responsibility pay. You talk up trades as if this is a board game at home. It ain't. Gray is useful, wether you understand it or not. His cost is minimal for a 7 footer. And IF you understand what he is doing, you'd be thankful you have him for his cost. The last game he posted well and shut down the middle. This game he was used little and the second time in, his guards went on a shooting dry spell. This is silly... In fact do he and I a favor and trade him to a place where he gets NBA playing/playing time time. Now I'll sit back and await your sophmoric come back.

JCS
JCS

@Ziko How are Afflalo stats inflated if he only plays 5 more minutes than Marco and gets less usage? Elson is a free agent this summer so a trade won't necessarily be necessary. Evans is 6-5 and that was a typo, but Young is 6-8 and I'd prefer to start him. If need be, he can be your Kobme stopper.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Maurice Evans of Atlanta is 6'5. He used to play for the Lakers. He's shorter than Kobe by a SOLID inch or 2. Utah would NEVER make a trade to help the Hornets. Too much pride for D Will to do that. Thaddeus Young is reportedly NOT available. I like Aaron Afflalo a lot. But I think his numbers are a little inflated because he plays more minutes than Marco. He's good. But I think he and Marco are pretty even overall. He doesn't bring a strength over Marco. He's just been more consistent because it's his second season as a starter now.

JCS
JCS

Gray is horrible. He made a donut collection on the stat sheet b/c his speciality is ZERO IMPACT. I'd rather roll the dice with Etan Thomas, but my personal preference is for the following 2K11 FAs: Francisco Elson 7-0 235 lbs Center Thaddeus Young 6-8 217lbs Small forward Maurice Evans 6-8 220lbs Small Forward Aaron Afflalo 6-5 215lbs Shooting Guard FYI- Aaron Afflalo PER 12.55
 Rank 28
 MPG 35.4
 TS .624
 USG 12.8 Marco Bellinell PER 11.25
 Rank 37
 MPG 28.4
 TS .548
 USG 17.3

JCS
JCS

Yes we can. Etan has been in my radar for a minute. It's interesting how he along with all the other back up centers in ATL are free agents at the same time.

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

i'd do that trade, gives us a lot more front court options. plus summers is only in his 2nd year so he's got some upside.

Forever504
Forever504

I feel disrespected why is this story of us putting a beating on the magic not front page news on nba.com or yahoo.com sport section what do we have to do to ger respect

DownUnder
DownUnder

And on ESPN's website there is a John Hollinger article (he was at the game wasn't he?) that pretty much says the main reason the Magic lost (it mainly focuses on the magic) was because of the officials, specifically Steve Javie hating on Dwight and giving him a costly tech for no reason? Which if it hadn't happened the hornets may have lost by one at the end of regulation. John also gives credit for the Hornets win to Dwight for missing 2 free throws. Not one bit of credit to the beez at all. He actually goes so far as to say the Hornets played terribly in the last minute of regulation. Well i got news for you, not being able to stop crazy jacked up threes on the run or missing free throws doesn't count as a badly played last minute. A few bad choices yea but we didn't play horribly bad in the last minute. He forgets about the officiating that cost the Hornets that crucial offensive rebound and he fails to mention the effort on the part of Hornets players like Marcus. Arrg it just annoys me when the NBA in general, as you say disrespects us. http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/23845/untimely-tech-looms-over-magic-loss

Gec
Gec

We also HAD A FOUL TO GIVE in that last possession. So it's true we didn't play well in that last minute, we must say it all. Hollinger may be good with numbers but he's not in understanding basketball. I agree that tech shouldnt be whistled, but He talks about Refs when they stole 5 points to Marcus fastbreaks and give the Ball to the magic after 'Meka miss when it was CLEARLY a nonpossession out of bounds for the Hornets

m_W
m_W

Dwight was pushing off all game and throwing elbows, and Javie failed to call a lot of those. Not to mention the HORRIBLE charge call Buckets picked up late when his defender was clearly still moving. Yet Hollinger points to 1 tech as bias? Dwight and other Magic argued several calls, and could have gotten more techs under the current rules. It's absurd to suggest the refs helped the Hornets if you watched the entire game.

42
42

Ariza went down after a Magic rebound of a late Hornets miss. Slow to get up, his man raced down the floor and scored while the other Hornets were stuck to their charges, realizing the error too late. That, too, was a huge reason for overtime.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Joe Gerrity, Hornets247:  “Despite a 6-0 start to the game, things got scary early on for the Hornets. First off, Marco Belinelli suffered a game ending ankle tweak only a minute in. Then the Magic started playing their usual basketball and took a fairly substantial lead. With a minute gone in the second quarter the Magic were up by eight and the Hornets looked out of sync on both ends of the floor.” […]