Smack / Nov 20, 2009 / 5:22 am

Burned Out

Peja Stojakovic

No matter how old and inconsistent he gets, apparently Peja Stojakovic will always be able to light up the Suns. In what could have been one of those rock-bottom moments for the Hornets — national TV, no Chris Paul, interim coach, hosting a red-hot opponent who could conceivably drop 130 points on ‘em and get them booed out of their own gym — N.O. showed some heart and pulled off an upset win behind Peja’s 25 points, 13 boards and seven threes. It wasn’t the first time Peja has taken down the Suns on a big stage: Remember the night Shaq got traded to Phoenix and Peja spoiled his first appearance at the arena with a buzzer-beating game winner? Remember the ’01 Kings/Suns playoff series where Young Peja dropped 37 in an elimination Game Four? … Starting Darren Collison in place of CP, the Hornets jumped out to a 15-2 lead thanks to dominating the glass and hustling on D, while the Suns looked like they were still trying to wake up from a night of hitting Bourbon Street. Eventually Steve Nash (13 pts, 10 asts) and Co. got it together and made it a ballgame, until Peja nailed a 27-footer to break a tie with a little under three minutes left, then Collison (15 pts, 5 asts) broke down the Nash/Amar’e pick-and-roll defense for a layup that was basically the dagger … One time Collison handed off to Devin Brown coming off a curl, and Brown threw up something vaguely resembling a jump shot that fell out of bounds as he fell to the ground. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly Paul-to-David West … Unlike Byron Scott, interim coach Jeff Bower has no hesitation using Marcus Thornton. The rookie has been getting about 20 minutes per game since Bower took over, and he’s producing. Last night he dropped 19 points off the bench until he tweaked his ankle in the fourth quarter and didn’t return … If you were wondering why New Orleans wanted Emeka Okafor, this was the game to watch. Okafor (13 pts, 12 rebs) set the tone early with his offensive rebounding and defense, and provided some interior scoring on a night where D-West struggled (2-11 FG). One time Okafor met Amar’e at the rim and pinned his dunk attempt while Amar’e had one of those looks on his face where you hope nobody saw it but you know 20,000 people are in the building … By now you should know never to read too much into anything the Spurs do early in the season. Still, for a team expected to be right up there with the Lakers and Magic and the rest of the contenders, this slow start is a little alarming. Missing Tony Parker (ankle) and Manu Ginobili (groin), Tim Duncan had to carry the offense against the also short-handed Jazz, and the team struggled all night as the Jazz won for the first time in San Antonio since the ’90s … A select few teams in the League have a pick-and-roll combo better than Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, and it’s safe to say no team has two P-n-R combos better than D-Will/Booz and Eric Maynor/Paul Millsap. Maynor is still making his rookie adjustments, but it won’t be long before there’s not much of a drop-off when the starters go out and the backups take over. Boozer (18 pts, 11 rebs) was a beast in the fourth quarter last night, getting some timely and-ones; Millsap scored 20 off the bench … You can already see the confidence rising out of L.A. like a gigantic cloud of smug: They’ve got Pau Gasol back, they’ve got their full squad (minus Luke Walton), and they’re preparing to hit that championship-level groove. Gasol dropped 24 points and 13 boards in his season debut as the Lakers ran the Bulls by 15 points. It’s amazing how Gasol automatically makes the L.A. offense run so much smoother. Kobe scoring 40 and 45 points is fun to watch, but when Kobe can have 21 points and eight dimes and Gasol is doing his thing, the Lakers as a team are more dangerous … Did anybody think for a split-second that Derek Fisher might try for a dunk when he got that breakaway opportunity in the second quarter? Fish was just lucky Derrick Rose (20 pts) decided against sending his layup to the soda man … Kirk Hinrich must be the second coming of Jerry Sloan. Tough, smart, defensive grinder in the Bulls backcourt, and we could even see him coaching for 20-30 years after he’s done playing. Hinrich clocked Lamar Odom on a hard foul in the second half last night, then got right in Lamar’s face when the situation escalated. Just like Sloan back in the day, Hinrich will square up on anybody. If Shaq’s reality show gets another season, they should have an episode where Shaq fights Kirk Hinrich in an “I Quit” match. Our money’s on Kirk … We’re out like Shaq’s show …

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  • mcw88

    1. TD
    2. Malone
    3. KG
    4. Barkley
    5. McHale
    *6. Dirk

    Still a big early though, I mean TD, KG, Dirk are still playing so a few more All-NBA, All-Defense teams could change the orders a bit.

  • F.L.A.S.H.

    the lakers really gotta package farmar/walton/vujacic for a better point guard, seeing fish get derrick rose, tony parker, chris paul, and aaron brooks night after night is just…..*turns away*…..I mean, who said captains can’t come off the bench? I swear to god I saw eric snow and damon jones shake hands with tony parker and timmy in the finals…..

  • Atom

    Id watch a second season of “The Magic Hour” before I would more of that Shaq atrocity. He should have let Nash keep that shit.

    As much as I dislike KG for all the crap he pulls, he would probably have to make that top 5. Power forward might be the weakest position when you are looking at all time greats.

    Don’t know if the Spurs really “blew” the Jazz, but they definitly took it from them pretty good.

  • Judas

    In May and June 2010 — Lakers starting unit

    1. Kobe
    2. Ron-Ron
    3. LO
    4. Gasol
    5. Bynum
    And the 6th Man — Fisher

  • alf (from melmak)

    Nice way for me to place my foot in my mouth. Never thought the Spurs would loose two games in a row and against the Jazz at that in their own building.

    Coming from a Jazz fan like me, the game has not changed my view that much. Still see them as lottery bound. Come to think of it, it might not be bad. Two top 10 picks next year. Nice.

    LA without Luke Walton is still a full squad. Just goes to show that kids will be hard pressed to repeat the success of their parents. Think Sean and Julian Lennon or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

    For those who question my line — I have no meal allownce today. Might get hungry though. Darn. Peace.

  • Atom

    @ mcw88

    U may forget because he is a clown on the daily (or weekly really) on T.V., but Barkley was NASTY. League MVP, rebounding champ, one of the top scorers in the league, he was dominant. Took several teams very far. KG’s one chip doesnt automatically make him a better power forward. He may have anchored the C’s defense that year, but he wasn’t leading that team or closing games for them. Hell, they almost made East finals last year without him. Unless something drastic happens, he goes below Barkley in any power forward ranking, chip or no chip.

  • That’s whats up

    Pure Power Forwards?
    1. Malone
    2. Duncan (even part time, split with Center position)
    3. Barkley

    Malone and Barkley displayed the power you need to be called a true Power Forward

  • Shrink This

    Tim Duncan is a great player but he’s a center.

    I always got the sense that he was called a power forward because it was felt that the label of top all time power forward is more befitting a player with his body of work than top 5 (all time) center.

    And Barkley was a way better player than KG. If KG got down on all fours in front of chuck he would have smashed him in his fat mouth. Hell, I’d love to see what would have happened if KG played against Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer in their primes…

  • mcw88

    I know KG has been gettin sum pretty bad press lately (some of it is unjustifiable, even for his fans) but his credentials are just as impressive, if not more than Barkleys; 2003/04 MVP, 2007/08 DPOY, rebounding champ 4 straight years, even lead the league in points in 2003/04, 9 All NBA selections (compared to Chuck’s 11), 10 All Defense teams (Barkley had none). The year the celts won the chip, he raised his avgs from 18pts 8 boards to 20/10 in the playoffs and carried his team through most of the playoffs due to inconsistency by Allen and Pierce (who had 2 good games, Game 7 against Cleveland and game 2 against detroit i think). Granted he didnt really have any offensive explosions like Pierce’s 40+ game against Cleveland or Allen’s 50 against the Bulls (His best I think was a 30pt 20brd game against the Kings way bak) but overall the man still has more than 20,000 points in his career so its not like he’s just a defensive specialist.

    In terms of taking the last shot, its just not who KG is (Not that he hasnt made them, like the media is makin it out to seem). He’s always looking to pass first then score. He has won more than his fare share on the defensive end (at the top of my head steal against Minn 09 and block on Marion 07)

    Career Wise is probably the biggest weakness against KG’s resume. His last 3 years were a disappointment (He won 44 games that first non-playoff season but was still short), cant argue that. But look at the squad they had the last yr; KG, Trenton Hassell, Mark Blount, Ricky Davis (their 2nd best player) and Mike James. I mean how many games are you expected to win with that? Hassell’s on the nets (winless this season), Blount’s just an expiring contract, Davis has never seen playoff cept for once w/ the celts (as a backup) and Mike James is not rotation material.

  • ab_40

    ey the nba didn’t start in the 80′s kids. Bob McAdoo was there before KG, Dirk, CWebb he’s up there too with the greats at the 4. In 1974-75 he was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, averaging 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.12 blocks per game, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 80.5 percent from the free throw line. dude was a beast and is probably one of the most underrated nba ‘legends’ ever… but there are probably 10 former aba guys who have the same problem hehe. it’s hard to make top 10 listst of all time because some stats have only been there for a short while. I think bill russel and wilt chamberlain would be way up there or higher in all time blocks and blocks per game and if Triple doubles would become so important now Oscar would’ve averaged that for more then one year.

    I love manu’s game but he is injured again. when he isn’t injured he’s up there with the top 5 sg’s in the leauge but so is T-mac hehe. maybe they should be looking into trading for monta ellis and raja bell for manu. just don’t let him end up in phoenix and average 30 ppg with the training staff they have there.

    and about KG you remember when he was in the confrence finals vs the lakers? both spree and sam cassel was injured and he got that team to win two games againt that lakers squad.

    I don’t know about barkley he should’ve retired after his phoenix years. those years in houston were not good for his resumé but a nucleaus of olajuwan, barkley and pippen would be nice even if they’re older but they were never 100% as a team as far as health and chemistry.

    And Tim Duncan is not a center if so kevin mchale also was a center because they both played on the block a lot so that argument isn’t very good.

    And if KG would’ve played against those tough guys he would’ve stayed at the three and probably have a few enforcers himself and he doesn’t do that intimidating thing against players he respects. to them he just talks… now him in a game vs rodman and his antics now THAT would be worth paying for

  • x0t

    @mcw

    what did Malone EVER do except put up huge numbers and choke over and over again every single time it really mattered, and then blame ostertag and everyone else for his shortcomings? His disgusting personality aside, how anyone can consider a choker like Malone one of the top 3 greatest PF’s above someone like Mchale is beyond me. I’d even put Barkley ahead of Malone. Yeah KJ was great but Stockton was even better, Stockton would have had rings if he wasnt stuck with that bum.

  • chancepassenger

    i’d have to agree with x0t. malone can never get a top3 all time PF placing for being a choker. TD is a PF because most of his career, he had either Robinson, Nesterovic, or Nazr playing the 5 with him.
    and if you had stockton playing with barkley, they would’ve won at least 1 ring

    TOP 5 PF all time
    1. Tim Duncan
    2. Kevin Mchale
    3. KG
    4.Malone
    5. Petit

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gabriel-Brogden/507128757 GABRIEL BROGDEN

    “One time Okafor met Amar’e at the rim and pinned his dunk attempt while Amar’e had one of those looks on his face where you hope nobody saw it but you know 20,000 people are in the building.”

    LMMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m dying right now.

    And that ‘look’ looks extra funny with his Poindexter goggles.

    LOL!

    Ahh God, Dime – y’all made my day. Y’all see the same sh** we see but y’all phrase it theee BEST.

  • http://hornetshype.com ticktock6

    I have, literally, been “Marcus Thornton Marcus Thornton Marcus Thornton” like a maniac since preseason. Honestly, Scott should have been fired for benching his rookies. Collison’s speed alone should have gotten him on the floor over guys like Devin and Bobby Brown. Every day it’d be… “They’re not ready,” “They need to prove themselves in practice”. Marcus Thornton did not even dress for, what, 6 games? He led all rookies in points in Vegas. Now Vegas is Vegas, not the NBA, but the point is Scott knew he could score and the Hornets desperately needed scoring. And yet the kids were in street clothes.

    In the 4 games since Scott was fired and Thornton’s been getting meaningful playing time?

    Averaging 16 points in 20 minutes.

  • SagJism

    Why you guys aint giving Cwebb no love, one of the best power forwards to ever play

  • Dagomar

    Atom: they reached the East semi-finals. And they were almost KO’d by the Bulls in getting there.

  • http://allthatjazzbasketball.blogspot.com/ Amar

    okay, spurs didn’t have parker and manu — one starter and one bench guy.

    jazz were without memo and cj (two starters), and without korver, harpring, ronnie price three rotation guys off the bench.

    and the jazz were playing on the road on the 2nd night of a back to back. i’m impressed and happy for this win – a win I did not think the jazz would get.

  • control

    It should be “Missing Tony Parker (ankle) and Manu Ginobili (vagina)”. Guy flopped himself into an injury again, as usual. Does he get the “injury prone” title yet? Guy has missed more games than Vince Carter…yet his jocksmen still want to be saying he’s one of the greatest players in the history of basketball…

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    Manu is not a bench guy.

    This shit is hilarious, don’t know how I’ve never seen it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD796H08J7w&NR=1

  • Dave

    the Jazz are doing the same thing they’ve done for years, tease just enough to sucker us in thinking they’ll actually contend and then, WHAM, Boozer strains a uteris and is out for 3 months and we’re back sitting in 8th playing at LA again. Not sure what to say other than this Groundhog Day act is getting old, learn from the Spurs, tank the year and land two lottery picks (or trades with said picks) who can help DWill while he’s still in his prime. Maybe buy Jerry some plots of land, let him put a winter wheat crop in while taking a sabbatical this year and bring him back next summer after we’ve secured the personnel.

  • LAballer

    damn…what a difference the big spaniard makes…

    lakers lookin real real thin right now…real thin..

    LOL

  • LakeShow84

    “You can already see the confidence rising out of L.A. like a gigantic cloud of smug”

    Lol good south park reference..

    DIMESMACK was on point today LMAO..

  • Kudabeen

    That was a big question mark for me on why Byron Scott was punishing the rookie Marcus Thronton…He seems to have little patience for young guys that don’t suck and aren’t named Chris Paul. I still wonder how much of the JR Smith issues were just JR being a knucklehead vs him being young and not understanding why his coach was being an ass toward him…

    I always remembered interviews of how much JR was immature, but his Father had a great influence on him and his family was around those first couple of years to help him transition, so I figured it was more communication that Byron Scott lacks with certain guys…This make Jeff Bower look better. The owner says you coach and show me these guys can play and so far so good.

    I know the wins may just be aberrations, but anyone else consider that without CP3 dominating the ball there is a better flow for this team on offense? I know CP3 is a great setup guard and scorer, but NO don’t have the talent to capitalize on his dimes. West and Peja have been off and on, Emeka is still adjusting…Julius Wright is still a college level talent…

    I’m not knocking CP3, but I just find it amazing that he never gets killed for dribbling the air out of the ball as much as he does, but other guards who aren’t designated as golden boys in the L get marked as chemistry killers. Just saying and I’ve been saying it is all about the chosen. AI lead the league in steals and absolutely terrorize offenses interrupting their flow and Steals aren’t that important (tell that to Orlando when he snatched 9 in 1 game in the playoffs)…CP3 leads the league in steals and he is 1st team all defense…

    Not comparing the players, because I know people hate Iverson for just being who he is, but there is always this issue of social selection. 1st team all D for a guy that while he is feisty and strong can’t hold the opposing PGs in check (Billiups, Deron Williams), much less guard bigger SGs as Iverson had to more often in his career…just saying

  • the cynic

    the spurs are held together by rubberbands and masking tape. At least George Hill looks good

    Gasol is the most important player to the lakers, without him im not sure they could get out of the first round depending on the match-up

  • Sacto_J

    “Without Pau, the Lakers are like a living room with two love seats. With no sofa, it just don’t look right….” Kenny Smith…
    I had to rewind that like 3 times last night, was laughing so hard….

  • LAballer

    how is everyone now saying Gasol is the shit and Gasol is the most important player on the lakers when all i heard was the lakers wont even be that great once gasol gets back..they are still weak..and gasol is soft…

    stay the course people..dont go back and forth..that just makes you even less credible when you make your ridiculous remarks regarding the champs not repeating..its inevitable..watch and enjoy..

  • chief youngblood

    living in south louisiana watching almost every hornets game for the past 3 seasons i’m very happy to see byron scott finally let go, the hornets have been without any real system since our deep playoff run against the spurs (strict pick and roll) plus scott has an irrational fear of rookies and young talent (despite his strange faith in julian wright ) .

    the win against the suns was a huge moral boost , it’s an interesting time for a hornets fan when peja isn’t the weak link , thornton and collison will at least bring some energy and new talent in the face of hard times.

    BRING AVVERY JOHNSON BACK TO THE NO