During a four-game, regular season sweep over Phoenix in 2007-08, Hornets supporting players such as Peja Stojakovic, Morris Peterson and Jannero Pargo delivered big offensive contributions vs. the Suns. In the fourth quarter of Thursday's game, James Posey and Rasual Butler added their names to the list of New Orleans players who've burned the Suns.
Despite playing without Tyson Chandler (sprained right ankle), a late scratch, New Orleans (2-0) picked up its second straight solid road win to open the season.
After Phoenix pulled within 83-80 at 7:00 of the fourth quarter, Posey drilled three three-pointers over the remainder of the game. Butler added two treys of his own, making his biggest contributions to a Hornets victory in quite some time.
"(Posey) and Rasual made some big shots, especially when our offense started to get stagnant," Peterson said.
Peterson again performed well on Phoenix's home floor, going 7-for-10 from the field and scoring a team-best 21 points. "This was a big win, especially without our big fella (Chandler)," Peterson said. "We had to really concentrate on defense. Any time you lose a guy like him, defensively other guys have to step up."
"Doing it without Tyson showed a lot of fight," said Chris Paul, who finished with 20 points and 10 assists. "This was a big win for a team early in the season."
Other developments from Thursday's road win on TNT:
With Chandler out of the lineup, Hilton Armstrong moved into the starting lineup. Armstrong was active defensively, blocking three Phoenix shots, including a highlight-reel rejection of a Steve Nash layup. Armstrong was limited to 19 minutes, partly due to foul trouble. The UConn product was whistled for four personals, but a couple were tough calls - he picked up one after getting elbowed in the face by Shaquille O'Neal; on another foul, he was shoved by O'Neal into the path of a penetrating Nash.
Armstrong's elevation into the starting lineup meant Melvin Ely went from a DNP on Wednesday to the backup center spot Thursday. Ely was effective early at the offensive end - at one point, TNT analyst Doug Collins said Phoenix's interior defense was "making Ely look like Moses Malone" in the low post. Ely notched seven points in 19 minutes.
Mike James was limited to single-digit minutes for a second straight night. It didn't show up on the stat sheet, but Byron Scott said he was more content with the play of his reserves than after the Golden State game.
Julian Wright moved onto the active list but did not play.
Stojakovic was scorching from the perimeter much of the night, racking up 20 points (including three trifectas) in 31 minutes. However, he sprained his left ankle with about eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and did not return. TNT's Craig Sager reported that after speaking to Stojakovic, the 6-foot-10 forward was "doubtful" to play in Saturday's home opener vs. Cleveland.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES (courtesy Phoenix Suns)
We did a great job of keeping our hands active and forcing a bunch of turnovers tonight. We shot the ball great, but too many layups, too many points in the paint. Weve got to do a better job of closing down that paint. Another gutsy win from a team missing its star center in Tyson and then to lose Peja in the fourth quarter. Its just a great win for us to come in here and beat them on their home floor.
Anytime you play against the Suns, its going to be up tempo and fast. I can honestly say I got a little winded tonight. I was going to play the whole fourth quarter, but I needed a quick break. This was a great team effort. The way those guys were knocking down shots, as a point guard, it made my job SO easy."
We wanted to come out aggressive. Phoenix is a very dangerous team. We got off to a good start and collectively we came out aggressive. It shows the versatility of this team. Teams have to play honest against us because we have so many guys that can do different things. We can do so many different things, I think that makes us a lot more dangerous.
SUNS POSTGAME QUOTES
Well, it was a disappointing way to have our home opener, obviously after a good game (in San Antonio on Wednesday). Turnovers really hurt us tonight, and they shot the ball well from three-point land. Whenever we gave ourselves a chance to get back in the game, we seemed to shoot ourselves in the foot. One mistake lead to another, we just never got back into a flow at that point. Maybe we let the referees bother us too much in the first half and then in the second half I thought our guys came out and really competed, and got back and gave ourselves a chance. Down the stretch again, there were a couple of times when we really needed a possession. They got those two or three offensive rebounds that kind of hurt and then they a hit a three and that really did it for us. All in all, it was just a disappointing night, we just didnt bring it. From the start we just didnt have it and that was disappointing."