What will it take for the Hornets to stay in the Western Conference playoff race, despite being without their All-Star and best player? Well, perhaps exactly what took place tonight in their key victory over Houston.
With Jeff Bower relying almost exclusively on just seven players, five different Hornets cracked double figures in scoring. One of the rotation members who didnt reach double-figure points, Emeka Okafor, pulled down 11 rebounds and swatted a season-best six shots. With another stellar performance by breakout rookie Darren Collison (26 points, 9 assists, 4 steals), New Orleans (30-26) led virtually the entire way, en route to handing Houston (28-27) its second straight defeat.
One of the best recent developments has been the emergence of Morris Peterson, who continues to play well at starting shooting guard. Peterson, who was out of the mix at times earlier this season, tallied 15 points, including three three-pointers. Bower mentioned after the game that his confidence in Peterson was a factor that made it easier for New Orleans to pull the trigger on trades of other backcourt players.
One of the things that Ive never forgotten about Mo was that he was a starting guard on a franchise-best 56-win team, Bower said of the 2007-08 Hornets that captured the Southwest Division. He didnt forget how to (play). We just had to get him in position where he could (produce) again for us. Thats part of why I had the confidence to make some of the moves that were made from a personnel standpoint, to be quite honest, (because of) the faith and confidence in Mo to be able to contribute.