Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 96, Spurs 72

Saturday, January 22, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (29-16), Spurs (37-7)

It was over when… New Orleans led 72-48 through three quarters, the second straight night that the Hornets were in front by over 20 points entering the final 12 minutes. New Orleans used an immense 21-0 third-quarter run to take control of what was just a three-point game at the half. As a result, the Hornets matched their season-best streak by winning their eighth consecutive game.

Hornets MVP: No sequence Saturday better demonstrated the Hornets’ aggressive approach than when Emeka Okafor resoundingly blocked two consecutive Spurs close-range shots in the third quarter. The pair of swats helped ignite the sellout New Orleans Arena crowd, which led to one of the best stretches of play all season from the Hornets. Okafor finished with nine points, 12 rebounds and – perhaps most notably – five blocks.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Like the Hornets as a team, Marcus Thornton seemed to smell blood in the second half when the Spurs were in the midst of a lengthy scoring drought. Thornton finished with 18 points in just 23 minutes played, yet another recent example of his instant-offense ability off the bench. Thornton was 4-for-4 from three-point range, joining Trevor Ariza by canning all four of his attempts from beyond the arc.

The buzz on… a statement victory in the New Orleans Arena. In front of a sellout crowd of 18,000-plus fans, the largest throng of 2010-11, the Hornets played arguably their best game of the season (although that distinction also could’ve gone to the game they played in Atlanta 24 hours earlier). Okafor commented in the locker room that the thing he enjoyed most about his back-to-back blocks of Tiago Splitter was “the way the crowd reacted. The crowd was like, ‘yeah, we’re in it too.’ That was a special moment. The crowd was in it and they gave us energy. That particular play showed that they were with us.”

On following up Friday’s resounding victory with a rout of the NBA’s best team record-wise, Chris Paul said “it felt really good to do that in front of a packed house. For our team, we need this type of crowd. It felt like a playoff game. That energy, everyone on our team really feeds off it and it was a lot of fun to be a part of.”

Blog question of the night: What mid-term grade would you give Jarrett Jack? The backup point guard is adjusting to a somewhat new role with the Hornets, coming off the bench after being a starter for portion of his six-year career. He also was traded during the season for the first time as a pro, arriving in November.