The Hornets beat the Timberwolves

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Published: December 23, 2007

Twas three nights before Christmas, and all through New Orleans Arena, the Hornets kicked ass. Oh yeah, our guys took care of business last night, crucifying the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, 110-76 (box | recap). I was in the building with a pen and a pad and one of my better shirts. Here's how it all went down…

CP, slaying Telfair
 

Pregame

The Hornets come out of the tunnel throwing t-shirts to the crowd as usual. There's not many in the building yet so they have to pick their spots.

Peja Stojakovic is out there warming up with the rest of the team. I'm assuming he won't play tonight. Resting him one more game would mean an extra four days to fully recover from that groin injury.

Bobby Jackson addresses the crowd before the tip, wishing everyone happy holidays. That's nice, but I'm distracted by the Honeybees, who come out wearing Santa-themed skimpies. Damn.

First Quarter

Turns out Peja is playing, and starting! While I won't feel good about this until the game is over and he's still healthy, it's nice to see our full starting five out there again. The T-Wolves start out with Sebastian Telfair and Corey Brewer at the guards, Ryan Gomes and Al Jefferson up front, and rookie Chris Richard in the middle.

11:45 – Peja wastes no time, tossing up a three right away, but it rims out. A minute later, he takes a feed from Chris Paul at the top of the key and wets one. Everyone takes a seat.

8:02 – The T-Wolves put together a 7-2 run, before the Hornets get busy on defense. A couple of steals, some fastbreak layups and Peja's first three of the night puts us on top, 13-9. Timeout T-Wolves. Chris Paul has either scored or assisted on every Hornets basket so far. Mark him down for 4 points, 4 assists and a couple steals already.

2:43 – Chris gets his fifth assist, as Tyson Chandler finishes a lob with a slam. Those two have to be leading the league in alley-oop hook-ups. Every Hornet starter has now scored, Rasual is in for Peja, and the home team leads, 23-20.

2:28 – Timeout, same score, two kids on the court have to put on adult shorts and shoes and try make a basket. Funny.

The Hornets haven't been playing bad D, but the T-Wolves have been shooting pretty well thus far. If not for Minnesota's turnovers, they'd probably have 30 points on the board already. The Hornets have been hustling, playing good help defense for the most part. The offense has been smooth. Different guys are getting looks and making shots.

0:59 – Another CP steal and he takes it all the way for the lay-in to cap an 11-0 Hornets run. The quarter finishes with the Hornets up, 30-20. Chris had 10 points, 5 assists, 4 steals and 0 turnovers in those first 12 minutes. Unreal.

Second Quarter

Byron Scott starts out with the trigger-happy backcourt of Jannero Pargo and Bobby Jackson, along with Rasual, Julian Wright and Hilton Armstrong. The T-Wolves roll with Telfair, Brewer, Gerald Green, Antoine Walker and Craig Smith.

10:17 – I notice the T-Wolves are playing some zone D. They might have been doing that since the tip, but I just noticed.

8:36 – Minnesota takes a timeout, with the Hornets up, 35-23. Our second unit is playing well so far, scrambling, rebounding. Armstrong and Wright are active on D, getting some blocks, keeping possessions alive. The T-Wolves are starting to look dejected. They can't get anything going right now.

Out of the timeout, Jefferson gets the ball in the post against Hilton, and spins past him to the baseline. JuJu is right there with the help and blocks AJ. Sweet.

6:50 – The T-Wolves are still in their zone, but Wright sneaks through it to catch a lob from Pargo. Damn, that was a nice finish. 37-28 Hornets.

6:22 – Gerald Green drops a tough triple over B-Jax to give him 8 points in the last two minutes. Next trip, Green, who seems to be running point for the T-Wolves right now, strolls through the Hornets defense but misses the layup. Jefferson is there to clean it up, though, slamming home the put-back. That's a 10-2 run by Minnesota, the lead is down to four, and Byron wants to talk.

Que the Honeybees for their first performance of the night. They bring out the chairs and candy canes and do it well to Santa Baby. They finish the routine by lining up and throwing high kicks. It must suck to be sitting at the other side of the court.

4:09 – Peja, West and CP come back in after the timeout, the T-Wolves stay in that zone, and Pargo and Mo-Pete punish them from the corners. 43-35 Hornets after Peterson's triple.

2:31 – David West is taking them to school. He dropped a J, turned the corner for a driving slam, then made a lay-in plus the foul. Give him 13 points after he makes the free throw.

The quarter finishes with the T-Wolves getting three looks but they can't finish. The Hornets take a 53-38 lead into the break.

Halftime Thoughts

  • Great job so far by the Hornets. They're playing exactly like they should against these guys, controlling just about every aspect of the game. They're rebounding well, challenging shots, moving the ball on offense and keeping turnovers to a minimum. In fact, I'd later find out that the Hornets had zero turnovers in the first half, which is a first in franchise history.
  • Ryan Gomes leads the T-Wolves with 12 points, all of which he scored in the first quarter. A few times before halftime, Minnesota looked to be trying to isolate Gomes on Peja, but that didn't get them much.
  • The crowd isn't bad at all. Attendance is announced as 11,257, which is about 3,000 more than the last time the T-Wolves were in town, back in November. Good job, New Orleans. Let's keep building.
     
  • The halftime show is some magician dude with three hot assistants in Santa nightdress thingies. The magic is okay, but I'm thinking they should just
    have the three chicks do what those two bald dudes did halftime at the Suns game last weekend. Yeah.
  • The reserves came in and didn't do a bad job, considering the T-Wolves still had some starters in the game. Our second unit seems to be fine defensively, but they can have trouble scoring because nobody on the bench is a true playmaker.
  • Mistletoe cam! One guy goes for tongue and gets a huge cheer from the crowd but he'll probably regret that move for the next month. At one points, the camera hits two chicks and they go along for the ride. Legends.
  • I'm still nervous about Peja. Methinks it's not healthy to worry so much about another man's groin.

JuJu to the rack

Third Quarter

The Hornets don't let up, starting the new half on a 7-2 run. Three minutes in, Peja gets a hand on a pass, leaks out, gets it back, dumps it off to CP, who dumps it off to a trailing Peterson. Basket and the foul. Nice. Make it 60-39 to th Hornets after Mo-Pete drops the bonus, and I'm thinking we might see Marcus Vinicius yet.

8:41 – West blows right by Mark Madsen, who just checked in at the 9:21 mark. Madsen just wraps up West to prevent an easy two, giving him two fouls already.

7:59 – Madsen fouls West again.

6:51 – Madsen fouls CP trying to guard the pick. That's four fouls in two and a half minutes. Wow.

6:07 – Chris gets his fifth steal, picking of a Gerald Green pass, and talking off up the left side of the floor. Telfair is right there, stride for stride, so CP wraps his right arm around him to drop a bounce pass to Chandler who throws down an emphatic slam. But wait, doesn't count. The ref calls a foul on Telfair, and CP is upset. "Don't call that, man!"

CP gets the deuce anyway, sinking both free throws. 66-45 Hornets.

5:32 – Twice, CP almost comes up with another steal, causing havoc for the Timberwolves, but they get a bucket via an Al Jefferson tip. At the other end, CP pulls up and knocks down a 16-footer. Dude is everywhere right now.

5:14 – Mark Madsen goes after an offensive rebound, gets the ball, but lands on his ass under the basket, feet out over the endline. Hornets ball.

1:57 – Chris shows surreal court vision, finding a streaking Mo-Pete cutting to the basket on the break. A bounce pass through traffic, and the Hornets are up 74-50. I'm wondering how the hell these T-Wolves ever beat us this season.

The quarter ends with the Hornets up 79-53. A comeback is unlikely. 

Fourth Quarter

Jackson, Pargo, Hilton, Rasual and West in there for the Hornets. It doesn't matter who the T-Wolves have on court at this point. 

11:37 – Hilton misses a 15-footer, but goes after the rebound and is rewarded with a jumpball. He wins it, and gets the ball back from Pargo in the low post. For some reason, the T-Wolves decide to triple-team Hilton, but then the two help defenders realize that's probably not the best idea in the world and back off. Hilton turns and hits the jumper over whoever is left.

10:18 – JuJu gets the ball on the low block, posting up Gomes int he zone. Wright goes baseline and gets to the basket for a nice finish. 83-56 Hornets.

8:26 – Triples by Gomes and Antoine Walker makes the score 86-65. Understandably concerned, Byron burns a timeout.

At this point, nature calls and I have to leave my seat for a while. On the way back, I get side-tracked talking to random funky people.

2:58 – Back in my seat. What I miss? Hey, Marcus Vinicius is in the ballgame, and he has two points already. Unstoppable, baby!

The Timberwolves are so bad, Jannero Pargo almost looks like Chris Paul out there. In the last 2:09 of the game, the Hornets score 12 points, and Jannero scores or assists on all of them.

0:15 – Pargo steals from Telfair, and does the right thing to give it up for Vinicius on the break. Marcus rises up and throws down an impressive right-hand slam. That was 25 games of DNP-CD pent up aggression right there. I'd find out later that Marcus' wife, who goes to all the games, went berserk after her man landed that jam.

As she should.

Marky V with the hoo-rah!


Postgame Thoughts

So it finished 110-76. So so nice to see the Hornets crush an inferior opponent. Chris Paul set the tone in this one with that insane first quarter. He finished with 19 points, 15 assists and 5 steals in just 30 minutes.

David West had it going tonight, getting to the basket and dropping 9-of-12 for 22 points. Tyson Chandler grabbed 14 rebounds in just 29 minutes, while Peja and Mo-Pete combined for 21 points. I'm damn glad Peja is back healthy. I would have never forgiven Byron though if he had got hurt again in that game, when he didn't even need to be playing.

As for the bench, they were all good. Everyone got some burn and scored at least twice. How about Julian Wright? He shot 4-of-4 from the field for 8 points, and also grabbed 7 boards and blocked a couple shots. Jackson and Pargo both shot pretty well, combining for 22 points.

Stealing the show of course was Marcus Vinicius. 4 points in 5 minutes. You know, that works out at about 38 points per 48 minutes. Jeff Bower, get working on a contract extension for this dude.

Our 17-10 Hornets will chill now for a few days and enjoy the Christmas break, before it's back to work on Wednesday at Memphis. Then it's off to Charlotte to play the Bobcats on Friday, before LeBron and the Cavs come to New Orleans on Saturday.

Now, back to football. Let's go Saints.

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