Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 91, Grizzlies 84

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Since Rasual Butler’s elevation into the starting lineup, the new first-string shooting guard has emphasized the importance of making contributions in areas other than scoring. “We’ve got a lot of guys on this team who are capable of putting up 20 points every night,” Butler said prior to Sunday’s game.

That may be true, but at the Air Canada Centre, Butler’s most recognized skill – spot-up perimter shooting – proved critical in New Orleans’ road victory. The La Salle product drilled three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, part of a 16-point game for Butler. He combined with James Posey (season-highs of 20 points and 6 treys) to burn the Raptors from long range.

Posey drained five three-pointers in the opening half, sparking the Hornets (13-7) to a five-point halftime lead.

“I felt good,” Posey said of his hot shooting. “We did a great job of making the extra pass, guys were open and we made shots. We’ve got very unselfish guys on this team and we’re not afraid to make the extra pass.”

Sunday’s game was the Hornets’ 20th, marking roughly the one-quarter pole of the regular season. Here’s a player-by-player update of the team’s roster through Sunday’s eight-point victory in Canada:

STARTERS
Chris Paul
His steals streak increased to 104 consecutive games, this time coming precariously close to seeing it end. Paul’s lone theft came with just under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot guard from Wake Forest can tie the all-time NBA record of 105 (Alvin Robertson) on Tuesday in Memphis. He would potentially break the mark Wednesday vs. San Antonio on ESPN.
Rasual Butler
New Orleans is 8-3 since he moved into the starting lineup on Nov. 19 (the Hornets were 5-4 prior to that). Byron Scott has said that the starting two guard spot is Butler’s to lose. His shooting had dipped a bit in December (9-for-32 overall) prior to the breakout in Toronto, but he was extremely clutch against the Raptors.
Peja Stojakovic
Tough start to the road trip, going 5-for-19 from field in Boston and Toronto. Prior to that he had been scorching hot, including 15-for-22 from three-point range in the initial three games of December.
David West
Piled up 29 points (9-for-9 on foul shots) and nine rebounds in Toronto, slightly outplaying Chris Bosh (25 points, 8 rebounds) in the paint. It was West’s second straight 20-point, 10-rebound game on the trip.
Tyson Chandler
He missed a second straight game due to neck spasms. The 7-foot-1 center has now been sidelined for five games in 2008-09, already more than the three he missed last season.

RESERVES
Antonio Daniels

Did not score in his Hornets debut, but handed out five assists in 10 minutes of playing time. There was already a noticeable difference in the cohesiveness of the second-unit’s offense, with Daniels making several accurate and timely feeds to new teammates.
Devin Brown
He went 3-for-9 from the field at Toronto, including 0-for-4 on treys, where he has struggled mightily this season. With Daniels in the mix now, Brown’s minutes off the bench will come primarily at his more natural position of shooting guard.
James Posey
In addition to the season-best 20 points in Toronto, he grabbed 10 rebounds. He’s now shooting an outstanding 46 percent from three-point range this season.
Sean Marks
At this rate, he will shatter his career-high in minutes. By being on the floor for 12 minutes Sunday, he’s played 82 so far in seven appearances. His career-best is 319 for Miami during 2001-02 season. His highlights in Toronto were a 21-foot jumper and nice rejection of a Jermaine O’Neal close-range shot.
Hilton Armstrong
Started in place of Chandler for the second straight game, but his PT was limited by foul trouble again. Had three points and four boards in 17 minutes.
Melvin Ely
Moved up into rotation due to Chandler’s absence, but was on floor for only four minutes in first half at Toronto.
Morris Peterson
Received his first DNP due to coach’s decision of the season, after he had shot well recently. With Daniels added to the roster, the backup 2 role appears to be between Brown and Peterson. Scott elected to play Brown, minimizing Peterson’s role Sunday.
Julian Wright
Hasn’t played more than 10 minutes in a game since Nov. 24. Byron Scott has said recently that his inconsistency and unpredictability from game to game are keeping him from cementing a spot in the rotation. Right now there is a logjam at the 2 and 3 spots, so Wright will again have to be patient and work hard in practice until an opportunity presents itself.
Ryan Bowen
A frequent inactive of late. He’s played in one game this season, Nov. 21 at Oklahoma City.