Big Easy Buzz Blog - February 17, 2010

Peterson will make fifth straight start vs. Utah

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
In the midst of his most productive stretch of the season, Morris Peterson will remain in the starting lineup vs. Utah (7 p.m., New Orleans Arena) tonight, the fifth consecutive start for the 10-year veteran. Marcus Thornton, who missed three consecutive games before returning to action Feb. 10 vs. Boston, will come off the bench for a second straight outing.

“We are going to keep Mo in the starting lineup for tonight’s game, and bring Marcus off the bench,” Hornets coach Jeff Bower said at shootaround, within the past hour. “Marcus practiced very well the past two days and is recovered.”

Other notes from shootaround this morning:

• Utah has been one of the best teams in the league since the Jazz’s defeat to the Hornets on Jan. 4. Utah is 14-2 in its last 16 games. “They’ve been virtually unbeatable,” Bower said. “I think they’ve integrated Kyle Korver into their rotation now. At that time (Jan. 4), he was just getting back (from injury). He’s made an impact. They’ve played outstanding basketball and it shows in the way they’ve climbed the standings.”

• Do not adjust your TV set tonight when you see the Hornets’ starting small forward – that really is Peja Stojakovic, sporting the extremely tight new buzz cut. Stojakovic has cut his hair about as short as it’s ever been, although he claims to always get the same haircut at the beginning of every offseason. “I’ve had it like this before, but it’s just that you don’t see me (because Stojakovic is in Europe during the offseason),” Stojakovic said. postgame: Jazz 98, Hornets 90

The portion of the season immediately after the All-Star break means several things, but one of them is an added sense of urgency. Teams on the outside looking in of the conference’s top eight can’t say “there is plenty of time left” much longer, not when there are fewer than 30 games remaining on the schedule.

“We know every game is important,” Peja Stojakovic said on Wednesday morning. “In order for us to get there (to the playoffs), we know we have to play at a high level.”

Unfortunately for the Hornets (28-26), at times tonight they looked like a team that hadn’t played a game in seven days. In a turnover-filled contest, New Orleans finished with 18 miscues, which were actually four fewer turnovers than Utah (34-19). But the Jazz was much sharper in the fourth quarter, holding a 26-19 scoring edge to notch a second quality road win in as many nights.

Other notes from tonight:

• Darius Songaila went down with what looked like a nasty right ankle sprain in the fourth quarter, causing him to head to the locker room. After the game he said he took X-rays that came back negative. His condition will be further evaluated Thursday.

• It was an utterly frustrating night all the way around for David West, who played only 26 minutes due to foul trouble. He was 2-for-9 from the field, scoring five points and grabbing five rebounds. Asked by a reporter about his mood following tonight’s game, West said, “I’m just looking forward to Friday (vs. Indiana), because I didn’t even get a chance to play tonight.”