Amid the considerable attention given to the Hornets first trip to Oklahoma City as a visiting team along with the presence of ESPN Byron Scott called Fridays game an important one for his team. But not because of the emotional return to OKC, or the nationwide ESPN audience. Simply put, the Hornets needed a victory. They needed to play better than they had during their recent 2-5 stretch.
Scott and the Hornets left the Sooner State in a much better mood, manhandling the struggling Thunder from wire-to-wire. New Orleans (6-5) led by 21 at halftime and was never threatened by Oklahoma City (1-12) after intermission.
Individually, the Hornets received bounceback offensive games from starting forwards Peja Stojakovic (13 points, 3 three-pointers) and David West (19 points). New Orleans had struggled with its perimeter shooting lately, but drilled eight treys.
The Hornets will try to make it two straight Saturday, facing the same Thunder team at 7 p.m. in New Orleans.
"We played with a sense of urgency and there was a lot more determination out there," Scott assessed. "We did a lot of good things on both ends of the floor. One game doesn't solve all of our problems, but we're trying to get on a roll here."
The bench also contributed one of its most effective overall outings of the season, led by Devin Browns 16-point effort. The Hornets reserves totaled 48 points, surpassing the scoring output of OKCs starters.
The second team was able to build on the lead, Brown said. We have to come ready to play (Saturday). The Thunder are an NBA team and they have a lot of pride. We have to match their energy.
Other developments from Fridays 25-point victory:
Third-year backup center Hilton Armstrong turned in his best performance of the young season, with 13 points. The UConn product was aggressive throughout, throwing down four dunks and dropping in a pair of hook shots. He had a resounding follow-up slam and dunk over OKC's Chris Wilcox within the first 30 seconds of his initial stint in the first quarter.
"We know he has it in him, it's just a matter of bringing it out," Scott said.
As promised, the Thunder extended a nice gesture by introducing the Hornets starters to New Orleans-style music, as opposed to treating them like a nondescript visiting team. Chris Paul, David West and Tyson Chandler who all experienced their breakthrough NBA seasons while the Hornets were based in OKC received rousing ovations from the sold-old Ford Center crowd during pregame intros.