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2011-12 Season in Review - Marco Belinelli
2011-12 Season in Review: Marco Belinelli
By: Calder Hynes, Hornets.com
May 14, 2012

Hornets.com continues its look back at the 2011-12 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:

WHAT HAPPENED
In a season defined by uncertainty, one constant for the Hornets was the presence of shooting guard Marco Belinelli. Though 11 different players missed time due to injury this season, Belinelli persevered through minor ailments and the compact schedule to play in all 66 games while starting a team-high 55 contests including one game at small forward and the first start of his career at point guard.

He plays the right way. He takes big shots, hes playing hurt. Thats the thing I love about him. All the guys around the league sitting out because of their bumps and bruises, but that kid just keeps playing, said Monty Williams of Belinellis toughness.

The Italian marksmans second campaign in the Big Easy was truly a career year, which saw him average career-bests in points (11.8) and rebounds (2.6) while setting single-game career marks across the board in points, field goals made, three-pointers made, free throws made, rebounds, assists, steals and minutes. After playing for three teams in his first four seasons, it was obvious the 26-year-old welcomed the familiarity that returning to New Orleans brought with it.

This is the second year I have played for coach Monty and I feel more comfortable in his system (than last year). I love coach Monty and the other coaches here. They have worked with me to develop a lot in the last two seasons. It has been lucky for me this year to play a lot of minutes and I am trying to produce and do whatever the team needs.

Known for his shooting and scoring abilities, Belinelli didnt disappoint, leading the team with 107 three-pointers made (tied for 16th-most in the NBA), including a stretch of 15 consecutive games with a triple between March 26 and April 19. As players shuffled in and out around him, Marco took advantage of the extended minutes afforded him by injuries (notably to Eric Gordon) to lead the team in scoring 10 times and rebounding twice while scoring in double-figures a team-best 44 times including nine games of 20-plus points.

Williams: Marcos been a stud for us this year. Hes one of the toughest kids I know. Hes certainly erased all doubts about his game.

BEST GAME
Marcos best game may have actually been two games, both victories against the Golden State Warriors on the road that bookended a 9-7 stretch for the team between March 28 and April 24 as the season was winding down. In the two trips against his former club in Oakland this season, Belinelli averaged 22.5 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals on 66.7 percent shooting (18-27) while going 6-7 from distance. In the first contest, he tied a career high with six assists, leading Williams to reflect on his overall contribution.

"Marco was outstanding tonight shooting the ball, getting guys involved. It really looks good and feels good when guys go out there and play the right way and you get the win."

Also worth noting, despite coming in a loss, was Belinellis season-high 27 point performance March 29 at Portland on the strength of a Hornets individual season-high seven three-pointers. The 27-point outburst was the third-highest point total by a New Orleans player this season.

WHATS NEXT
After signing a qualifying offer prior to the season, Belinelli is now an unrestricted free agent, meaning he is free to sign with any club. This will be the first time in his career he has gone through unrestricted free agency, an exciting but sometimes stressful time for players. Marco will find comfort in knowing that at least one coach around the league believes in his abilities.

Im hoping and praying that he gets the kind of contract he deserves this summer, Williams said.

ADDITIONAL 2011-12 SEASON IN REVIEWS
JASON SMITH JARRETT JACK GUSTAVO AYON
MARCO BELINELLI LANCE THOMAS XAVIER HENRY
EMEKA OKAFOR CHRIS KAMAN ERIC GORDON
GREIVIS VASQUEZ AL-FAROUQ AMINU TREVOR ARIZA
CARL LANDRY



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