Hornets 94, Kings 91: Night and Day

[From the FanPosts. A terrific recap from At the Hive regular RedHopeful -R]

If you watched or simply paid attention to this entire game today, kudos.  It means you endured the first half and approximately the first 4 minutes of the 3rd quarter.  During this time, the Hornets were absolutely horrid both offensively and defensively and found themselves down a whooping 23 points.  Considering the Kings have the 2nd worst record in the league, the Hornets were headed towards their most disappointing loss of the season.  Remember, this at a time when the city is attempting to rally around the team attempting to ensure that they remain in New Orleans.

We can only assume Monty had finally reached a breaking point with 7:58 remaining in the 3rd as he uncharacteristically did something special.  How special you ask?  Find out after the jump!

Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause for Marcus Thornton!  Monty Williams had seen enough stagnation on both ends that he not only inserted his pet, Willie Green, but also decided it was time to release MT from the doghouse and give him meaningful minutes.  That's right!  For many of us clamoring for weeks now for a legitimate adjustment, our rookie head coach finally made one.  Unsurprisingly (right?) for the remainder of the game, the Hornets outscored the Kings 49-23 AND we proceeded to set a franchise record for the largest comeback in team history.  Thank you Monty.

The majority of the credit has to go to Buckets.  He put up 13 points in the 3rd quarter and spearheaded the record-setting comeback win.  His patented deadly shooting, quick back door cuts and fearless drives to the basket were back on display.  However, I would be remiss if I failed to mention he was just as energetic on the defensive end which led to several opposing turnovers.

Also, I have to point out that it was Thornton's presence that really made us look like a legitimate playoff contender again.  The rest of the team was able to fill the roles they were most comfortable filling.  Chris Paul had an offensive weapon on the wing that the defense had to respect thereby opening up the middle.  David West could go back to being a very good secondary offensive option.  Willie Green could remain being the energetic guy who should only look for his shot when he is in prime position to do so.

Many of us have been calling for Thornton to receive substantial court time over our last woeful 10+ games for a variety of reasons.  However, none perhaps more important than having a reliable scorer on the floor.  For example, during the month of December, check out these percentages by our starting wings:  Ariza - 36.6 FG% (22.7 3FG%) and Belinelli - 35.3 FG% (27.3 3FG%).  Yeah, OUCH!

I'm sure there are still a few of us who are still muttering under our breath as to why it took Monty so long before going this route.  However, I'd like to mention it's probably best to give him a break and consider his work as a collective whole.  He developed a defensive identity almost immediately with this team and we raced off to one of the best starts in the NBA.  Consequently, Monty was probably partially convinced to stay the course despite our recent struggles.  Furthermore, he is a rookie head coach so he is bound to make mistakes.  All we should demand is that he learn from them.  Tonight's adjustment will likely go a long way for him, Marcus Thornton and the team so let's enjoy it and move on.

Some bullet points:

  • Trevor Ariza didn't see the court again after getting yanked with 7:58 to go in the 3rd quarter.  Let's consider this message sent and hope he rebounds in the next game.  Personally, I'd still like to see him remain in the starting lineup as our defensive stopper, and, his abysmal offensive game, would be alleviated by playing alongside a solid offensive force.
  • Emeka Okafor put together a solid game getting some key rebounds and blocks down the stretch.  He's never going to be one of the top centers in the league but he does exactly what this team needs and that's patrol the paint area.
  • Jarrett Jack remains in a lousy funk.  He continues to miss from everywhere including the free throw line and it is apparent it affects him in other areas.  In particular, I remember him making one pass that should have never EVER left his hands.
  • For the 2nd straight game, the Hornets were impressive on the offensive glass picking up 13 in the contest.  Jason Smith is now following in Mek's footsteps by attempting to tip the ball back out to the perimeter anytime it's going to be a jumpball situation.
  • David Andersen was backup center of choice tonight and he wasn't all that special in 5 minutes.  Rookie DeMarcus Cousins pushed him around quite a bit and it'd probably be in the team's best interests in sticking with either Gray or Mbenga.

So the Hornets go to 15-10 snapping a 3 game losing streak and give the fans hope that the offensive woes may be a thing of the past.  Next up are the ever dangerous Utah Jazz led by Deron Williams who is playing at an MVP level this season.  Here's to hoping tonight's game gives us a boost Friday.

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