NBA preseason: Hornets 108, Pacers 96

Saturday, October 17, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

Chris Paul said recently that although he’s not overly concerned about the Hornets’ subpar preseason play, he’d feel better if they put together a few wins prior to tip-off of the regular campaign. For the second straight Saturday, Paul helped end a mini-losing streak for New Orleans. Like he did against Oklahoma City on Oct. 10, the 6-foot point guard drained key buckets in the fourth quarter to spark the Hornets (2-4) in the final few minutes.

A few topics being discussed after Saturday’s game:

• Marcus Thornton’s aggressive offensive approach was on full display again. The LSU rookie went 7-for-17 from the field, scored 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds (including 4 on offense) and got his hands on several other caroms off the rim.

“He doesn’t care,” Scott said of Thornton’s knack for taking the ball to the basket regardless of whether a 7-footer is under the rim waiting for him. “He is a very fearless driver. He gets hit and gets back up, but you better believe he’s going to come back.”

Scott has talked frequently about how Thornton brings a few new elements to the Hornets. His athleticism and nose for the basket have been welcome sights for a team that often relies too heavily on spot-up shooting.

“I'm not scared of anybody,” Thornton said. “They're either going to block it or put me to the ground. (Slashing is) something they've been missing. Coach told me coming into the season to be aggressive. I'm just trying to bring the energy to the team.”

• Certainly this wasn’t the first time Hilton Armstrong has shown promise in preseason, but it was an encouraging performance by the 6-foot-11 center. He had nine rebounds and five blocks in 32 minutes, consistently swatting or contesting Indiana shots near the basket.

“He was very active and very aggressive. I thought Hilton played great,” Scott said. “He has a lot of confidence in himself and has been playing real well. I hope he just continues to do that.”

“Every year defense is important for us, but this year we’re going to really need it,” Armstrong said. “A lot of (shot blocking) is about being in the right spots on defense and being aware of where the ball is at all times. I feel like I’ve been here four years and I know the defense.”

• The 6-foot-2 Bobby Brown provided the highlight of the game by throwing down a dunk off an alley oop from Paul on a fast break. The play drew oohs from the crowd.

“Any time Chris and I are on the fast break, he tends to throw the lob pass to me, because other teams don’t think that I’m going to jump and get it,” Brown explained. “It takes teams by surprise. We definitely do it a lot in practice when we’re on the fast break.”

Some media members have made early comparisons of Brown to 6-foot-1 Jannero Pargo, but Brown may be able to finish at the rim a bit better than Pargo, who did not score in the lane often. “We’re similar because we both can shoot the ball real well,” Brown said. “But one difference might be my athleticism. That might be the one aspect that I have (an advantage).”

• The last thing the Hornets needed was a frontcourt injury, but Darius Songaila sustained what was described as a “hip flexor” by Scott and left the game in the first half. Songaila said in the locker room that the injury was very minor. His early exit was a precautionary one. He said he would have returned to the game if it had happened in the regular season.

• Scott said he is hopeful that Emeka Okafor (toe) and Ike Diogu (knee) will make their preseason debuts on the Thursday/Friday road trip to Golden State and L.A. Okafor told Hornets radio’s Joe Block on Saturday morning that the chances of the 6-foot-10 center being ready by the Oct. 28 opener at San Antonio are “90 percent.”