After the New Orleans Hornets lost David West for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, the question of how coach Monty Williams would address the gaping hole at starting power forward popped up. Would he move Carl Landry, a former Rocket and King who has excelled off the bench but struggled in a starting role in Sacramento, into West's spot? Or would Williams promote a lesser player, like Aaron Gray or Jason Smith, in order to keep Landry comfortable off the bench?
As it turns out, it wasn't that hard a decision, because Landry hasn't been terribly effective since being traded to New Orleans at the deadline. In Houston, Landry was a leading contender for Sixth Man of the Year; in Sacramento, he was only fair in both roles. In New Orleans, he struggled in an exclusive bench role. But he broke out Friday as a starter, scoring 19 points in the Hornets' 106-100 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Landry did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 13. But notably, Williams went to a small lineup that left Landry on the bench with the game tied and less than three minutes remaining. In that lineup, Trevor Ariza played power forward next to Emeka Okafor, with Willie Green and Jarrett Jack joining Chris Paul in the backcourt. It worked, but it never would have happened were West available.
New Orleans lost its second-best offensive player, so Williams will need to continue to learn on the fly how to score points without West. If Landry can produce like he did on Friday, that's a huge help.
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