New Orleans Hornets Defeat The Suns Behind Willie “Money” Green

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Published: April 8, 2011

The New OrleansHornets beat the Suns 109-97 behind an automatic Willie Green and an aggressive Trevor Ariza to win their third straight game. The win is their sixth of eight since losing David West to a season ending injury, and provides even more hope that this Hornets team is still capable of a playoff run.

Again the Hornets started out slowly, falling behind 12-5, and then 19-9 in the first six minutes of the game. Their defensive rotations seemed out of whack, as Carl Landry kept getting stuck on Aaron Brooks, and the Hornets guards were regularly finding themselves on Suns big men under the basket. The result was eight of the Suns first 13 shots coming from within 3 feet. They made seven of them.

The Hornets just can’t start out playoff games that way. Better teams won’t let them battle back as easily as the Suns and Rockets have these past two games. I’m sure Monty will address the slow starts at some point, and it won’t be a minute too soon.

Landry was a big part of the problem, and Monty took him out shortly after. Okafor remained in for most of the quarter, but was brought away from the basket regularly by the Suns bigs, reducing his ability to alter shots like he normally does. As a result the Hornets allowed the Suns to shoot 62% in the quarter. The interior defense was a problem all game long, but never was it more so than early on.

Fortunately the Hornets offense was adequate early, despite a very poor first 11:30 from Chris Paul (0 points on 3 shots, 3 assists vs 2 TO, and 1 rebound). The rest of the team (minus Landry) carried the scoring load during that time. Then, in the last 30 seconds of the half, Chris Paul went 2-2 with a three point bomb that brought those in attendance to their feet and a buzzer beating jumper which had a similar effect. Those two shots gave the Hornets a 31-30 lead at the end of one, and with them, the Hornets took control of the game.

A bench unit comprised of Ariza and the bench, and then Landry and the bench, extended the lead to 47-42 by the time the rest of them came back out (5:22 remaining). After initially struggling to get buckets or stop the Suns, the Hornets found their groove and started generating points. Ariza and Willie Green, who both obviously felt good tonight, combined to score 9 points in the closing two minutes as the Hornets extended their halftime lead to 59-53 at the half.

For a good bit of the third quarter, the Hornets threatened to pull away. They led by 11 with 8:45 to go, but scored only four points in the next four minutes, as the Suns cut the lead to 4 behind Grant Hill’s offensive burst. That guy never ceases to amaze me, and his defensive effort tonight again had me wondering why he’s spending his glory days on the Suns. He’s the prime example of a veteran who could take a playoff team to the next step.

Landry gave the Hornets some offense, with a thunderous dunk followed by an offensive board and a nice layup. At the end of three, the score stood 85-79 in favor of the Hornets.

The Hornets slowly extended their lead, threatening to pull away, but it was Willie Green who would seal the deal. His three pointer after a hustle-filled offensive rebound by Carl Landry with 5:10 to go in the second half was automatic. He knew he was going to make it, and so did everyone in the place.

As the shot went up, the arena got to their feet in anticipation of the coming explosion, and when the shot dropped arm hair stood up as far as the eye could see. Goosebumps, baby, goosebumps. Hornets 107-Suns 88. The standing ovation lasted through the timeout and when the team came back on the court they were greeted with another round of applause.

And that was the game. All that remained unclear was whether or not Patrick Ewing jr. would score- He did not, even though he came in for the last minute.

Trevor Ariza

Ariza better have this game taped at home. It’s the prime example of the player that he’s supposed to be– someone who excels in transition and when attacking the basket, and can hit the open three when need be. That’s his role on offense, and when he plays it he makes the Hornets offense that much better.

It helped of course that everything he threw up inside was finding net, but that’s what happens when you stay aggressive and don’t settle for outside jumpers. That’s been the biggest knock on Trevor for a couple years now, and perhaps he started taking notice.

On defense he was great, both one and one and in the passing lanes. I’ll have whatever he had for breakfast, please. In the end Ariza contributed 21 points on 17 shots, 8 rebounds, 4 assists vs 0 turnovers, and 3 steals. His plus/minus was +15. All in all, it was a fantastic performance. He’s really playing well lately.

Did I mention that nobody except Ariza had more than 5 boards? True story. Guy was all over the place.

Willie Green

The Green was was money today, scoring 31 points on 12-16 shooting, to go along with 4 assists vs 1 steal, and 3 rebounds. He did every single little thing the Hornets needed from him, knocking down shots long range, up close and from everywhere in between. At one point he hit 12 straight, a New Orleans franchise record.

Defensively he was excellent, rarely falling for pump fakes and causing his mark to work extra hard just to even get a shot off before the clock expired. I counted no less than three times that his guy threw up a shot straight out of my last JCC game. To be clear, that’s not good.

To further emphasize how important Willie was, and how well he played, let’s take a look at his plus/minus.

+27

When Willie finally left the game with 23 seconds to play, he reveived a standing ovation for his performance. Let me add to that- Clap. Clap. Clap.

Other Player Notes

  • Watching Jack and Paul play well together is awesome. When Paul gets stuck holding the ball at the top of the key with the shot clock running down, he actually has someone to give it to who can dribble, and then distribute or shoot. Sounds weird, but this has been a rarity in New Orleans in recent years. Defensively the duo has been excellent as well. It’s clear the connection they share off the court is creeping it’s way into the game.
  • Q-Pon, like most rookies, gets caught cheating off his man way too much. I counted three different times in the second quarter alone. I’m sure Monty will chew him out later, as he should.
  • Jason Smith and Aaron Gray gave some nice minutes in the second and fourth quarters. Mostly Smith, but as Monty said, Gray was in a tough spot. It’s an…interesting front court, but it’s been working well in limited action. Tonight we even saw Gray alertly kick it out from the post which resulted in a wide open Willie Green three pointer. He nailed it. Both of these guys will be needed in the playoffs, so it’s good to see them playing well.

Game Notes

  • During a timeout with 8:45 to go in the first quarter, the Bee-Zanies started a U-S-A chant in honor of the “wounded warriors” sitting behind their section. The game started while the chant was still going, and Marco Belinelli knocked home a jumper, despite being from Italy.
  • During another timeout with about 8:40 to go in the second, two kids raced to make a shot. One of them had a Thornton jersey on. Fortunately he lost…
  • The Bee-Zanies were chanting something about Vince Carter being old, and he reacted after making a free throw.
  • Happy Birthday to Hornets President Hugh Weber.
  • Attendance was 14,950, but everyone there was awesome, so if really did feel like more. Good job, everyone who attended.

Post-Game Notes

Quotes From Monty’s Postgame Press Conference

  • “I’m glad we were able to establish a defensive mindset as the game went on”
  • “I like the fact that he got 7 defensive rebounds.” – On Ariza
  • “I’m just glad we got the win, especially at home.”
  • “He looks the way he did in LA” – on Ariza
  • “Jason Gave us great energy”
  • “Aaron was in a tough spot tonight because they went small”
  • “We’re still trying to figure it out”- on the rotation going into the playoffs
  • Backup SF, backup PF are the spots where they are unsure. It appears that Q-Pon might need to see time — Paraphrased
  • “When he gets going like that, not many people can calm him down” – On Willie
  • “Even as a rookie, he played the same way”- On Willie
  • “He plays the game the right way from a toughness standpoint. He guards 2′s, 3′s and when a guy is giving his body like that on the defensive end you kind of let him go on offense.” – On Willie
  • “We’ll have to get him to do an interview next time”- As some guy answers his phone during the press conference and then starts talking. So odd…

Listen here! Note- There is a delay before Monty starts talking.

WS600003


46 comments
Ludiculous
Ludiculous

What did Vince Carter do when the Bee-Zanies called him old, because when I went to the Celtics game my seats were right next to the Bee-Zanies and they were calling Big Baby "Cry Baby" so when he went to the bench he flicked them off as he sat down.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

great to see we won. had a party last night so i couldn't watch the game. AWESOME. Memphis tomorrow. :) one game at a time baby. one game. :)

QueenBee
QueenBee

Willie had a great game yes but let's slow our roles. As happy as I was for Willie last night I wouldn't be surprised if he turned out a 1-8 5pt game in the next one.

42
42

Ding!

SadHornetsFan
SadHornetsFan

i agree that monty should give the most minutes to the best playing two guard on any given night. and i like the small lineup we have been seeing lately of paul, jack, and green. green doesn't need to start though imo. leaves not enough three point shooting and less room for paul and landry. willie got 31 minutes and 17 shots last night anyway, so what does it matter if he starts?

paul
paul

Again I agree with you, 42! I think startin g is only important IF your bonuses or salary has a clause on this. And really, what this team really needs is a deadly 3 point threat. I think Belinelli is the only true hope here. Don't get me wrong, I am really jazzed Green and Jack had hot hands last night. In fat, it seems to me this team is finding different hot hands these past games and that is all good. To me, this makes me think they are really coming together and feel a part of every night.

L_REAZY
L_REAZY

That's true ... but he's a better starter than Marco! Ding! L_REAZY

42
42

You like Ding! eh? When I comes to our 2 guards, and I'm talking Marco, Willie, and Jack, I frankly couldn't care less who starts. What I want is for the Monty to keep rotating through the guys if no one is heating up, 4 mins, 4 mins, 4 mins . . . And I don't mean `lots of points' (but that is nice), I just mean he needs to find the guy who's going to play the best `'tonight' and empower him. Then wipe the slate clean, and start over for the next game.

L_REAZY
L_REAZY

Willie Green must start now! Bottomline! That would take care of the slow starts. You know, I've been trying to figure out the difference between Willie Green and Marco Belinelli other than their experience, and I've come to this; 1 of the 2 drives a lot more / more effectively than the other. Both probably shoot the ball at about the same consistentcy level from 15 feet and beyond, but Willie Green doesn't settle for jumpers as much as Belinelli does. The Hornets could feature a 3-guard rotation of Paul, Green, and Jack ... with Belinelli backing up Ariza, and they'd be better off from start to finish! Monty, don't fight it anymore, start Willie! 12-12fg would get just about anyone a chance to start! L_REAZY

SadHornetsFan
SadHornetsFan

we need a balanced offense. a three point specialist works better with our starting five. green has been effective with the second unit. he gets his minutes and his shots. the rotation that monty is going with now seems to be working. i don't want willie taking too many shots from CP3 and landry unless he is on like last night...which isn't gonna happen every night or close to it.

mike303row2
mike303row2

I don't like the slow starts the hornets have been having lately..in the playoffs they can't be intimidated..Does anyone else notice that when Ariza drives too the basket that it's a lot better result than his jump shot? It also would be nice for the Hornets to win tomorrow, and monday and then cheer for the grizz to steal one in portland on tuesday, then they won't have to worry about the Lakers in round one.

rmorales07
rmorales07

Seems like the Lakers are meant to play the Hornets. Dallas just one game behind. If they reach the 3rd spot they would play against us. Hope im wrong

seb
seb

not to mention that portland just keeps winning and wont give us any leeway to loose a game and still be in the 6th spot. I guess its hard to ask for a loss from a team this late in the year.

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

12-12 shooting midrange jumpers and long balls isn't on fire btw. That's like supernova heat WG33 was spitting last night.

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

I'll be a believer when we go and take down Memphis tomorrow on the road.

Ian H.
Ian H.

Last night I was bored and I YouTubed "Trevor Ariza dunks" and I was amazed at how strong and athletic he was attacking the rim in his first 4 years. He would pump fake at the 3 point line dribble drive and rise up on any and all under the goal. The last 3 games we have been seeing that same move as well as slashing to the goal rather than only catching n shooting. He is the X factor in the playoffs, because he has a skill set no one else on the roster has and can open the floor up even more for easy buckets and/or wide open perimeter shots when teams over commit to stop his drives. As impressive as Willie Green was it was just one of those nights for him, but Ariza can do that every night if he wanted to n we will need that with DWEst gone.

GreenBee
GreenBee

So right! Ariza can be the man if he wants to be. Like Jo and therest of hornets 24 7 said, gots to stop those stupid long jumpers. so dumb!

SadHornetsFan
SadHornetsFan

well said. i agree. willie's game tonight was awesome, but it's ariza's play of late that has me excited about the playoffs.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

great game, willie beastin, landry playing crazy. if we continue to play like we did tonite every team in the nba should fear us come playoff time

SadHornetsFan
SadHornetsFan

willie green...wow. don't know what else to say. i was the most thrilled about ariza tonight though. he is starting to look a little bit like the solid thrasher the Hornets have been lacking for so long. this team has a lot of good pieces. hopefully it all clicks in the playoffs. chris paul's numbers were a little unimpressive again shooting wise, but it wasn't really a bad night for him to defer to ariza and green. it seemed like he could score when he wanted to...like he showed at the end of the first quarter.

kempleton
kempleton

Our Hornets are finally getting into playoff mode. You can tell from the aggressiveness of our team. Jason Smith plays with a lot of energy, Green and Jack are solid, Ariza slashes and damages the defenses more, CP3 is looking like his good old MVP-self, Landry is doing a great job as the starting PF, Okafor and Gray are strong defensively. I hope they will prove all these with a win in Memphis! :)

CP3nBrees
CP3nBrees

Ok, I just got this from Hornets' writer Jim Eichenhofer, OKC does hold the tiebreaker over Dallas because they are division champs, meaning Dallas will have to end up with a better to stay as 3 seed.

42
42

Nope on Champ tie-breaker.

Kibner
Kibner

Playoff seeding rules are different than the rankings at the All-Star break, IIRC. OKC shouldn't have the tiebreaker on DAL.

coach44
coach44

The Hive was fun tonight. Fun, Fun, Fun. Felt like the playoffs. If you missed it shame on you. These are the kind of games I got season tickets for. If we can keep this up we will have fun in the playoffs!

GreenBee
GreenBee

Huge game bro. Top notch. This team might make a spalash.

john
john

Love when joe recap! We always win!!!!!!

GreenBee
GreenBee

Probaly beacuse home games. Whatever. Joe yeay!

Mark
Mark

ESPN says Willie Green +29. Let me add two more claps: clap clap

QueenBee
QueenBee

Hey Joe, the other night I peeked over at the game chat on ESPN. How do you put up with those a****? What did New Orleans/Hornets ever do to those people?

GreenBee
GreenBee

Boom. Joe smash! DDLers get it.

otherMark
otherMark

I did the same. The people giving Joe grief about the team are only kind of a**holes. It sucks, but think about what their exposure is to the issues at hand in N.O. They read national NBA pundits, and presume that the "experts" are unbiased and well-informed, much the way you or I might read an article in Time magazine and presume that its basically the truth. They have no personal experience of the city to draw on, and they've probably seen 3 hornets games on tv in the last 3 years. Where they ARE anuses is presuming to tell our NEW ORLEANS basketball expert what is happening with the team that he is fully devoted to covering. Joe doesn't show up where they work and smack the broom out their hands!! :>

Mark
Mark

Proud to share the same name as you, OtherMark.

CP3nBrees
CP3nBrees

I know right? They just hated New Orleans and the Hornets for some reason... But now look back before the season starts, espn had us winning 38 games, really? with CP3 on your team, anything can happen!!! We just made those so-called analysts looked dumb!

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

Kings- Memphis is down to the wire.

JCS
JCS

Memphis takes their crown as Marty Thorton built a brick house the size of the Graceland mansion.

JCS
JCS

ROFLMAO @ Doghouse for not understanding winning is important and stat inflation is not. Look at the standings and tell me where Marty Thorton and Kevin Love's team rank.

42
42

Playing well on a bad team is not stat inflation. I'm happy to elucidate this for you. No thanks is necessary. You are welcome. It's a pleasure to bring light into the dark.

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

LMAO, the guy who looked at the boxscore is discrediting the guy who actually watched the game down the stretch.

JCS
JCS

Look at the box score, junior.

Gec
Gec

lmao! Evans got rejected several times down the stretch, Marcus scored 7 there and the one who bricked is MT?

CP3nBrees
CP3nBrees

My prediction about this game was pretty close, 108-91.... BTW, Willie's 12 straight was a franchise record.

tHaT_oN3_gUy_
tHaT_oN3_gUy_

Has Trevor Ariza turned it up or what? he knows it's play off time

SadHornetsFan
SadHornetsFan

ya. he has been great lately. this guy has to be our X factor. keep it up ariza.

ktrufant
ktrufant

Yeah, looks like it. I remember when he would take the floor and look bored out there. Maybe he's a playoff guy ... that's where he made his name back when he was with the Lakers, right ... ?