As well as Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams has been playing offense recently, he still feels responsible when things aren’t going as well on the other end of the floor.
“When our defense comes and goes, I take it personally,” Williams said Saturday after the Hornets dropped a 125-122 overtime decision to the New Orleans Pelicans in Spectrum Center. “I’ve got to be consistent on the defensive end. That’s where coach and my teammates count on me.”
Williams shouldn’t be the only player on the Hornets taking a close look at his defensive performance this season. As the Hornets continue to tread water on the edge of the NBA Eastern Conference’s playoff race, coach Steve Clifford has consistently been frustrated by sub-par defensive performances, especially in the fourth quarter of tight games.
(Williams is) huge for us.
Hornets center Cody Zeller
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Those struggles have overshadowed the otherwise excellent play of late from Williams, a 6-foot-9 power forward who has been putting up what for him are eye-popping offensive numbers over the past few weeks. He’s had four double-doubles in the past five games, and now has seven for the season.
Williams, who has made his reputation over an 11-year pro career as a player who can contribute in a variety of ways, has been especially effective in the Hornets’ two most recent games.
In a 125-122 overtime loss against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, he scored 27 points, including 20 in the first half.
The Hornets remain in 11th place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
In a 121-81 victory against Orlando on Friday, he had a career-high 18 rebounds and seven assists, which tied a career high. He also threw down a dunk that was so violent that it knocked Magic center Bismack Biyombo to the floor – and Biyombo was still called for a foul.
“He’s huge for us,” Hornets center Cody Zeller said. “He’s been huge for us all season, especially how he organizes us on defense and stuff that fans don’t necessarily notice. He’s adding in the points and the big stats that everyone knows now, too. That’s what we need from veteran guys.”
18 Rebounds by Williams on Friday against Orlando, a career high
Williams doesn’t disagree with Zeller’s assessment of his game, but the defensive breakdowns – including Saturday when the Hornets allowed the Pelicans to shoot 50.5 percent and make 41.2 percent of their 3-pointers – bother him.
“My job is going to be whatever it’s going to be that night,” said Williams, who averages 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds. “But I’ve got to be there defensively for my teammates, keep them organized and compete on the matchups. Sometimes I might have to guard a guy I thought I wouldn’t have, whatever the case may be.”
The Hornets have a chance to improve their playoff prospects Monday at home against the Chicago Bulls, one of the teams immediately in front of them in the standings.
“We’re still right there, still just on the outside looking in,” said Williams. “We’re just trying to go out there and compete with the playoffs on the line. If we can elevate our game, I feel comfortable that will get us over the hump.”
Six strong games
Marvin Williams over the past six games:
March 2, at Phoenix
March 4, at Denver
March 6, Indiana
March 8, at Miami
March 10, Orlando
March 11, New Orleans