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Hornets Stay Hot at Home, Down Hawks

How vindicated do you think Jeff Bower feels right now? Both his rookies are playing fantastic basketball, and at this rate, Chris Paul can take all the time he needs to get healthy. The West's best record down on Wednesday, the East's last night.

The main stories, yet again, were Bower's draft picks.

Darren Collison

Here were Darren Collison's minutes under Byron Scott: 3, 0, 0, 0, 0, 2, 6, 17, 15. Here's his scoring by game under Bower: 18, 10, 12, 15, 22. Last night, he added his first career double-digit assist game for good measure. The longer Chris Paul sits, the more Collison gets to test himself against the NBA's top defensive players. Surely, we're in for some clunkers in the future. Not every game will see him produce a line close to Chris Paul's.

Collison is no CP, but his most valuable asset is exactly what Chris Paul's was as a rookie- the ability to get into the paint. Collison rarely needs a screen to get under the hoop; much like rookie Paul, his biggest initial challenge will be consistently finishing underneath the hoop against taller players. Game by game, he's getting better at it.

Marcus Thornton

It feels like he's magnetically attracted to the hoop. I'll try and show this a lot more in my video post, but Thornton is always, always working off the ball. In fact, the majority of his offensive effort is completed by the time he catches the ball. This is why it seems like he's always shooting a jumper or a lay-up off a pass. He gets open very easily, and he converts open shots- a great recipe for success.

Under Jeff Bower/Tim Floyd, Thornton has averaged a shade under 17 points per game. Even more interestingly, he's taken 63 shots in around 110 minutes, making his usage rates even higher than Chris Paul's last year. When he's been on the floor, Thornton has essentially been our offense.

And now, on to some bullets:

  • Hilton Armstrong was really, really bad. There was a sequence in the fourth quarter where he committed back-to-back fouls (one leading to an and one), allowed a clean offensive board to Zaza Pachulia, and committed a 3 second on the offensive end. It basically got to the point where if he wasn't removed, Atlanta would stroll back into the game. Given Bower's propensity to play the team's best players thus far, I'd be surprised if Sean Marks didn't get some minutes tonight.
  • Speaking of really bad, David West continued his mediocre season with a 6-20 performance. More than anything, his year has been characterized by easy misses on short, open looks. The box score says he collected 5 offensive rebound, but at least three were him rebounding his own missed lay-ups. He'll need a crazy run of production if he wants to make a third straight All-Star game.
  • Devin Brown: 0-4, 3 turnovers.
  • Peja stayed hot with 5 more trifectas. Overall, the team was just insane from downtown, going a collective 12-17. Also contributing were James Posey (2-2), Thornton (2-3), Bobby Brown (1-2), and Collison (2-2). Some nights, it's better to be lucky than good.

The Hornets look for a fourth straight win tonight, against Dwyane Wade and the Heat, one of the league's more middling offensive teams. Youth produces inconsistency, but I wouldn't be surprised if the guys can keep it rolling.