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12

Mar
2010

Mo And Hornets Buzzing

Mo’s recent play has been warmly received by teammates, fans and media alike. Check out John Reid’s latest article originally published in The Times Picayune:

New Orleans Hornets lifted by Peterson’s return to lineup

In one of his best performances since joining the New Orleans Hornets in 2007-08, shooting guard Morris Peterson was accurate from the perimeter and assertive rebounding Wednesday night. It came after the Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce tried cutting him off from getting through the lane and Kevin Garnett lunged to block his shots.

Despite the Celtics’ resistance, they did little to prevent Peterson from carrying the Hornets in the third quarter. He made four of six shots to score 13 of his 16 points, leading to a 93-85 victory Wednesday night before 14,848 at the New Orleans Arena. In 28 minutes, Peterson made five of 10 shots and grabbed 10 rebounds to achieve his first double-double since April 17, 2007, when he played for the Toronto Raptors. Behind Peterson and rookie point guard Darren Collison’s 25 points and nine assists, the Hornets (28-25) snapped a four-game home losing streak as they entered the All-Star break with needed momentum.

“I knew being down by 10 or 12 in the first half, we needed a spark, ” Peterson said. “I just have tried to play within the system, and we were able to push the ball.”

Peterson’s stellar play came after the Hornets had a second-quarter disaster, when backup Darius Songaila was their only player to make a shot from the field. Songaila made five of seven shots for 10 points, but the Celtics outscored the Hornets 28-14 to take a 55-43 halftime lead.

In the quarter, the Hornets made five of 18 shots and committed six turnovers. Besides Songaila’s scoring, forward David West made three of four free throws and Collison one of two.

But Peterson came to the rescue when the third quarter began. He scored five points in the opening minute to cut the Celtics’ lead to 55-48. Boston, taking advantage of its inside scoring, still led 60-48. But the Hornets established momentum and continued to surge after Peterson’s layup and free throw gave them their first lead, 67-65, since the first quarter. New Orleans closed out the third outscoring Boston 29-12 to take a 72-67 lead.

In the fourth, the Hornets withstood the Celtics’ rally after Marques Daniels’ layup cut their lead to 74-73 with 9:48 remaining. Behind Collison’s 13 points in the quarter, the Hornets prevented the Celtics from regaining the lead.

“Morris was definitely involved in that third-quarter run that gave us breathing room, ” Collison said. “We really needed Mo in this game.”

Peterson started the first five games this season before being demoted. He returned to the starting lineup for the first time since November when rookie shooting guard Marcus Thornton missed three games last week with a sore lower back. Thornton returned Wednesday night but came off the bench — he played nine minutes and scored two points.

“Mo is a professional, and he kept himself in shape, ” West said. “When his number got called, he stepped up and was ready to produce.”

In Monday’s 123-117 loss to the Orlando Magic, Peterson spent most of the game trying to guard Vince Carter, who scored a season-high 48 points. Peterson responded against the Celtics, holding Pierce, who finished with 15 points, to two points in the second half. Pierce’s only made shot came with 21.7 remaining in the game. Garnett finished with seven points and went scoreless in the second half. The Hornets forced the Celtics into 23 turnovers and outscored them 50-30 in the second half. It was the Celtics’ fifth consecutive loss to a team with a winning record. Boston has lost eight of its past 12 road games after opening the season winning 13 of 14. The Celtics were without starting shooting guard Ray Allen, who was sidelined with back spasms. Former LSU forward Glen Davis, whom the Celtics are rumored to be looking to trade, possibly to the Charlotte Bobcats for New Orleans native D.J. Augustin, scored nine points.

“We played well in the first half, but they came out hard, and we didn’t get back on defense early on in the third quarter, ” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. “We just have to get better. In the first half, we gave great effort and had a good lead going into halftime. In third quarter, we came out with a lot of jump shots and dribbling, which led to a lot of turnovers, then we missed seven free throws. It’s tough to win games when you turn the ball over and miss free throws.”

Collison easily got the Hornets into their offense, despite facing constant backcourt pressure from Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. Filling in for injured starting point guard Chris Paul, Collison achieved his fourth consecutive game of scoring 17 or more points. But Collison made 10 of the Hornets’ 24 turnovers.

“The turnovers made everything really difficult, ” Bower said. “Not only were we not getting shot attempts, but it put us in a hole trying to guard them.”

This article was originally published on Nola.com February 10th, 2010.

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