Collison and Thornton Earning Their Stingers With Jeff Bower as Coach

Sean StancillSenior Writer INovember 20, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 13:  Darren Collison #2 of the New Orleans Hornets dunks the ball during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Arena on November 13, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Jeff Bower drafted rookies Darren Collison (21st) and Marcus Thornton (43rd) to make marginal contributions over the season. For Thornton, provide desperately needed scoring from the wings and as for Collison spell some minutes from Chris Paul. 

It's safe to say, Bower probably didn't think he would be getting a return on his investments this early.

Marcus Thornton scored 19 points and fellow rookie Darren Collison chipped in 15 points as the pair of rookies proved their worth in the Hornets' 110-103 win over the Suns. On a quieter note, their combined output of 34 points is the highest of any rookie point guard-shooting guard tandem thus far in the NBA this season.

A 3-year starter out of UCLA, Collison has dispensed 17 assists to only seven turnovers since Chris Paul went down, so excuse his 5-for-15 night from the floor because he made plays when it mattered. He accounted for nine of their final 14 points and secured the game by intercepting Amar'e Stoudemire's pass with :35 seconds remaining. 

Collison initiated a persistent tempo led by penetrations of the Suns defense. He routinely used his quick first step and crafty dribbles to bypass Steve Nash on the way to the basket and though this won't show up in the box score, four of his misses led to a series of easy put-backs and four rebounds for Emeka Okafor. 

A balanced night included 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists and a win over the Western Conference's best team in what will prove to be a game that salts away and stocks confidence in Jeff Bower to look towards Darren Collison when Chris Paul does return from his ankle injury.

As for his counterpart, Marcus Thornton was equally efficient and integral to the Hornets' surprising win over the Phoenix Suns.

Thornton scored 19 points in 20 minutes on only seven shots converted and also chipped in two three-pointers. As an undersized two, he must work harder and play smarter for him to make an impact.

Part of that being is shot selection which was within the realm of acceptable Thursday night against the Hornets. He did a good job of making the game easier by flashing from the baseline to the rim for easy lay-ups. Five of his seven field goals came off of lay-ups and he attempted another which was blocked by Grant Hill on an eclipse-like occasion. 

It's an encouraging sign for both Thornton and newly minted GM-Head Coach Jeff Bower who acquired the hometown hero on a draft-night trade with the Miami Heat. Since Bower obtained a seat on the floor, Thorton has obtained minutes on the court. He's eclipsed the 20-minute mark three times in the last four games and has rewarded Bower by averaging 17 points in those contests. 

If the duo of Thornton and Collison can keep this up, it will certainly ease the loss of CP3 and keep the Hornets structured and hopefully afloat until Chris Paul returns.

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