Hart signed to 10-day deal; Thornton may miss game

Friday, February 5, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Facing a shortage of players with extensive professional experience handling the point-guard role, New Orleans signed nine-year NBA veteran Jason Hart to a 10-day contract this morning. Hart has appeared in 337 career games while playing point guard exclusively, including 56 starts. He has suited up for eight different teams, appearing in one game for the Timberwolves this season.

Hart is a pass-first point guard who does not look to score much or shoot from the perimeter, but has been effective running teams’ offenses, with a career assist-to-turnover ratio near 3 to 1. He’s also been regarded as a solid individual defender, using his 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame to play physically on that end of the floor.

After Chris Paul’s knee injury sidelined him for 4-6 weeks, the only true point guard on the roster was Darren Collison. Marcus Thornton had been handling the ball while Collison was resting during the past three games, but Thornton is likely to miss Friday’s game vs. Philadelphia with a tailbone bruise.

“I thought we needed more insurance at that (point guard) spot, in the event that other injuries take place,” Hornets coach Jeff Bower said of the motivation to sign Hart.

Bower said that Thornton’s soreness from a hard fall to the floor against Oklahoma City is hampering the rookie’s “ability to effectively move.” Bower added that it is possible the LSU product could also miss the upcoming two-game road trip to Charlotte and Orlando.

“It doesn’t appear he’s going to be able to go tonight,” Bower said. “We don’t know how quickly the healing will take place or (when) the stiffness will subside.”

Bower said if Thornton is unable to suit up, Morris Peterson probably will start at shooting guard against Philadelphia (17-31). Peterson is coming off perhaps his best game of the season, a nine-point outing vs. Oklahoma City.

“We’re real encouraged with Mo’s performance in the last game,” Bower said.

Even though the move was just made official, Hart is expected to play in tonight’s 7 p.m. game, according to Bower. “Yes, I would anticipate him getting in,” Bower said. “To what degree will be determined by how comfortable he is. We won’t hesitate to put him into the game if the situation dictates it.”

Hornets.com postgame: 76ers 101, Hornets 94

On Thursday night, Jason Hart was sitting in his home in California, preparing for another day of working out and taking his young son, Jason II, to elementary school. Roughly 17 hours after receiving a phone call that the Hornets needed him in New Orleans as soon as possible, Hart checked into the first quarter of tonight’s home game vs. Philadelphia.

Hart’s hectic and surreal Feb. 5 probably best sums up the situation at the moment for New Orleans (26-24). With the dual blows of Chris Paul and Marcus Thornton injuries over the past week, the Hornets are trying to figure things out on the fly, while attempting to hang in a congested Western Conference playoff race.

Paul was ruled out for 4-6 weeks earlier Friday, while Thornton’s status will be assessed Saturday to determine if he can play at Charlotte at 6 p.m.

It’s obvious that for the Hornets to win games without Paul – and perhaps both of their starting guards short-term – they will need across-the-board contributions from multiple players. Jeff Bower said he was pleased with the performances of several Hornets, but it wasn’t enough against a Philadelphia team that New Orleans couldn’t keep up in a faster-paced game. The 76ers led fast-break points by a 23-10 margin.

Defense (the Sixers shot 48 percent) and rebounding (Sixers led 46-36) also proved damaging for New Orleans.

On the plus side, Peja Stojakovic (23 points) had one of his best games of 2009-10. Bower also cited Darren Collison (17 points), Julian Wright (9 points in 13 minutes) and Morris Peterson (8 points in 20 minutes).

“We were really pleased with Peja’s aggressiveness and how he looked tonight,” Bower said. “Darren has a difficult job ahead of him but did a solid job. I thought Julian gave us a lift in the first half with his production. Mo had a very solid effort tonight.

“I’m pleased with a lot of things, but we have to continue to work extremely hard with our roster and the injuries to Chris and Marcus.”

For more on the game from players and coaches, click on NEWS/Postgame Quotes.