Peterson provides spark, depth at guard

Sunday, February 14, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Through the first three months of this season, 2009-10 was starting to look a lot like 2008-09 for Morris Peterson – and that definitely wasn’t a good thing. After appearing in a career-low 43 games last season, the 6-foot-7 swingman began this season as a starter, but that role only lasted six games. Peterson was a DNP for the entire month of December, then only appeared in four January games.

Despite the lengthy stretch of inactivity, the 32-year-old has shown that the Hornets didn’t have to worry about rust, or the 10-year NBA veteran not being ready when his number was called.

Since the dual injuries to the starting backcourt of Chris Paul and Marcus Thornton, Peterson has started four consecutive games at shooting guard, taking full advantage of his opportunity to play 20-plus minutes. Peterson is averaging 10.0 points, highlighted by 44 percent three-point shooting (8-for-18), in this stint as a starter. The longtime Toronto contributor provided a timely big game against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, the Celtics, posting a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. It was Peterson’s first double-double since 2006-2007, his final season with the Raptors.

“Mo’s done a great job for us,” Hornets coach Jeff Bower credited. “He’s provided a lot of things. He’s defended very well. He’s stretched the floor very well. He’s given us someone to fill the lane in transition. Mo is a professional who has kept himself ready and is making the most of his opportunity.”

Although Marcus Thornton (back bruise) should return to the floor after the All-Star break at 100 percent health, the Hornets now have a pair of shooting guards who appear to be hitting their stride entering the stretch run of the regular season. The same also will be said for the Hornets’ point-guard position once Chris Paul makes his anticipated return from injury.

“I think with Marcus and Mo Pete, that’s a pretty strong position for us now,” Bower said after the 93-85 victory over Boston. “Just like many of our other positions.”