Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 94, Kings 91

Wednesday, December 15, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (15-10), Kings (5-18)

It was over when… Sacramento missed a three-pointer that was rebounded by New Orleans, leading to Chris Paul’s free throw that put the Hornets up 94-88 with 5.9 seconds left. That sequence was preceded by a huge Marcus Thornton putback layup that made it a two-possession game. New Orleans posted the biggest comeback in franchise history, rallying from down 23 in the second half.

Hornets MVP: The in-arena game MVP award went to Chris Paul (with the Sixth Man kudos to Thornton), but I’m compelled to go with Thornton instead. His 19-point performance on 8-of-15 shooting was exactly what the Hornets needed, on a night when they seemed headed for an extremely discouraging defeat.

“Marcus was big,” fellow reserve Willie Green said. “Especially (after) going through some sophomore ups and downs this season, and maybe not getting the minutes he wants. But for him to be patient and come in tonight and play the way he did, it just goes to show what type of character he has. I was proud of him, happy that he was able to come in. We needed him tonight. I was glad to see him score the way he did. He helped us out tremendously.”

"(Teammates) have always encouraged me that if I did get my name called (to play)," Thornton related, "to maximize it. That's what I tried to do."

Asked whether he showed that he should play more, a grinning Thornton responded, "we'll see. I hoped to put some pressure on (Monty Williams). We'll see. Anything for the team. Any role I have to play to help the team win, I will (do)."

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Green finished with 10 points, including a pair of significant baskets during NOLA’s 25-14 fourth quarter. Thornton also scored four points in the final stanza. “Marcus and Willie were huge for us,” Paul said. “When they came in, we really picked up our energy and picked up the tempo. I think their energy got the crowd back into it. That’s a big part of (the comeback), too. You could just look into (Sacramento players’) eyes and they were just trying to hold on.”

The buzz on… Marcus Thornton’s role in the rotation. During Wednesday morning’s gameday shootaround at the Alario Center, Monty Williams expressed a hint of frustration at being asked repeatedly about what Thornton needs to do to garner more minutes. It’s a question that has come up at probably one-third or more of the team’s recent practices when they’ve been in New Orleans.

“I’m not going to coach this team worried about why one guy’s not getting in the game,” Williams said. “To me, it defeats the purpose of ‘team.’ Everyone on the squad has to get better. We all have to do this together. When I think of guys who can come in and help us, he’s one of those guys, but it can’t be one side of the floor. That’s the one thing that sticks out about him. He’s a guy who can do a number of things on the floor, but we’re trying to create a style of basketball that is team (first).

“Everyone thinks he’s done something wrong. It’s not that. You can’t play 11 guys. It’s hard (to play that many). Let’s give Marcus a break. He’s had a number of different coaches and played in a number of different systems. We’ve played 25 games (this season). He could get the call tonight, and he has to be ready.”

About nine hours later, that was exactly what happened. Thornton took full advantage.

“That happens in this league,” Paul said of Thornton’s recent fluctuations in playing time. “He knows that. But I think (his play vs. Sacramento) showed a lot about him and his resolve. He didn’t give up. He knows we’re going to need him. The next game might not call for 25 minutes from him, but we need the same energy. When you’re called on, you’ve got to be ready to play, and he was.”

Blog question of the night: An increase in minutes for Thornton netted extremely positive results Wednesday. What other potential changes in the distribution of playing time do you think would benefit New Orleans?