The Hornets beat the Clippers

Time for the Hornets to get back on track and shake off that lousy loss to the Raptors on New Year's Eve. They're in LA to play the Clippers, and Jordy Hultberg reminds us in CST's pregame show that the Hornets have already won twice in the Staples Center this season. In those two games, Peja Stojakovic has dropped 13-of-17 three point attempts and Chris Paul has delivered 31 assists.

But all is not peaches and cream. In a pregame interview, Byron Scott continues to speak ill of the bench, says the rotation is about to be shook up. First off the pine will now be Bobby Jackson. Second? Marcus Vinicius. Tonight should be interesting.

Hornets get ready

First Quarter

The Clippers start with Sam Cassell and Quinton Ross in the backcourt, Corey Maggette and young Josh Powell at forward, and Chris Kaman at center. It's just Powell's second start of the season, taking a spot usually occupied by rookie Al Thornton.

Hornets first offense, Peja gets a nice open look from three, but he starts as he finished the last game: Airball.

9:05 – The Hornets start out looking for West, and it's an especially good idea with Powell guarding him. He mixes it up with a dunk, then a baseline fadeaway, both good.

6:43 – Cassell misses a jumper on the baseline, and I don't think the Clips have taken a shot inside the paint yet. Nice D by the Hornets. We're up 10-6 after CP drops a floater in transition.

5:12 – Peja gets another open look from three, and gives us another airball. He's 1-of-6 now from the field, but I can live with it. If they keep giving him these open looks, he'll make em pay eventually. Timeout. 12-10 Hornets.

Out of that TO, Kaman drops a tough hook over Chandler, the Hornets go back to West and he doesn't disappoint. Four shots, and he's put it in the basket four different ways.

4:31 – Bobby Jackson gets in the game, replacing Mo-Pete, and West drops a jumper from the top of the key. Is there any forward in the NBA playing better than D-West right now?

2:31 – After Quinton Ross drives and gets to 6 points on the night, CP comes down and does the old alley-oop thing to Tyson. I'll never get sick of seeing that. And 1. Timeout. Byron Scott keeps his promise and gets Vinicius in the game, replacing Peja. 21-16 Hornets after Tyson hits the bonus.

Vinicius takes Maggette on defense.

1:01 – Hilton Armstrong comes in for West. Interesting five on the floor now for N.O.

The Hornets miss two chances at the end of the quarter, but it hasn't been a bad start. We're up 23-16. West has 12 points already, while Chris has 7 assists. I'm liking the defense (Clips 38% FGs, mostly jumpers), and methinks Byron's new tactic of mixing starters and reserves might work quite well. He's vowed not to play five reserves together for a while.

Second Quarter

Hornets start with Jax, Mo-Pete, Tyson, V and Hilton.
Clippers got Kaman, Frahm, Mobley, Thornton and Knight.

V fakes Frahm to the moon and gets to the line early. He misses the first free throw, and there's no longer a Hornet at 100% for the season. I shed a tear.

10:17 – Vinicius chases back, bothers the shot, then scrambles to get rebound and knocks it out of bounds off LA. Mrs. Vinicius would be so proud. Other end, Hilt stays with his own miss and gets 2 on the follow.

Then it gets crazy. V turns it over, Frahm turns it back, Vinicius takes it to the hole the other way, makes an ill-advised dish at the last second and has it tipped out of bounds. Hornets toss it back in, and Hilton gets stripped inside. Out of bounds again, but still Hornets ball. Jackson then takes it into the lane and gets the basket and 1. 29-16 Hornets after he makes the free throw, and LA haven't scored in forever.

8:55 – Thornton hits a 3, and here was me thinking he was a banger. Same dude scores again on a 20-footer next trip. Meanwhile, West has come back in the game. He's going against Thornton on the other end, and the rookie isn't giving him anything easy.

8:02 – Timeout, Hornets up 8. CST shows Kaman's numbers for the season. Man, I had no idea he was doing it like that. 18.3 points, 14.1 rebounds, 2.9 blocks. Damn.

Out of the timeout, Peja's back in for Marcus. Nice ball movement and Mo-Pete cans a corner three. West gets a little too physical next offensive trip, battling for position with Thornton, and it's the first foul against the Hornets tonight.

6:35 – Late in the shot clock, Bobby dribbles it off his own leg, recovers the rock at halfcourt, fakes out a nameless Clipper and launches what looks like a floater from 29 feet. Bottom. Other end, Maggette gets roughed up but no call and it's Hornets ball. Clippers not getting anything from the refs so far. 35-23 Hornets, and all our starters are back in.

4:11 – Thornton fakes, and gets baseline for a jam. He's looked impressive so far, on both ends of the floor. West hasn't gotten much since the rookie switched on him.

2:41 – Knight knocks down a J off a cross court pass. 4 point game. A stop later and a Mobley buries a fastbreak three. 1 point game. Hornets haven't scored in almost four minutes, although that looks to change as Peja gets to the line. Timeout Hornets, and Byron flashes his unhappy face.

1:07 – We run a nice play to get West available in the post. He ends up with Mobley on his back, Chris feeds him and a jump hook is born. We needed that. First field goal in forever.

0:02 – The refs decide to make up for all those calls they missed earlier, and pin a phantom foul on Chandler. Kaman makes a pair, the Hornets inbound long, and Mo-Pete finds Tyson for what should be a jam. The big man rushes it though, and the shot comes back out.

41 each at the half.

David West. The usual.

Halftime Thoughts

  • The last six minutes of the half were ugly for the Hornets. They led 37-25 after at the 5:41 mark, and got outscored 4-16 thereafter. Credit the Clippers defense though. They really clamped down on West, made it hard for him to get to his spot in the post, and bothered the feed from the wing. Meanwhile, nothing's coming easy for Peja and Mo-Pete.
  • Jordy interviews Haluska at halftime. He's expecting a kid soon (congrats), and talks about his recovery from injury. I completely miss what he said about the latter. Anyone with better ears?
  • Chris Paul has been pretty passive so far. He has 9 points and 0 turnovers, which is damn funky, but he's only shot the ball five times, and most of those takes came on the break. I'd like to see him get in the lane more and mess em up from the inside out like he's an alien in Gary Oldman.
  • Looks like the TV folks are suffering form some kind of New Year's hangover. Earlier I was watching some Bucks-Heat on League Pass, and they had on screen that Yi Jianlian scored 29 against the Charlotte Hornets a few weeks back. Those crazy Asians and their time machines. Now CST is talking about CP's player of the month honor, and show us a graphic saying Glen Rice was the first Hornet to get that award, all the way back in 2007.
  • Kaman has been pretty ineffective so far. As mentioned, he averages about 19 points and 14 boards a game, but at the half he has 5 and 5. His counterpart, Tyson Chandler, has 3 points and 6 boards, but also looks a little out of sync. Apart from Kaman being far more polished offensively, these two dudes are practically the same player. Well, granted, they look slightly different, too.
  • So far, the Hornets are 5-of-6 of free throws, and 2-of-9 from three. That needs to swing in the other direction.
  • Methinks I need more Vitamin C. I've never had scurvy, but I hear it's no fun.
  • Three reserves have played so far. V, Hilton and Jax, a combined 18 minutes, and they've all played decent. I doubt we'll see Pargo tonight.

Third Quarter

Clips start out with some aggressive D, making the Hornets work hard for two baskets in their first three trips. Meanwhile, Maggette is going right at Peja at the other end.

9:33 and the Clippers take their first lead of the night, 45-43, on a jumper by Powell.

9:22 – Short lived. Peja drops a wing three off a kick-out from CP, and another from the corner off some nice rotation next trip. Ah yes, leave him open and he makes you pay eventually. 51-47 Hornets.

8:03 – Peja busts another three, a lot like the first one, on the wing, off a pass by CP after drawing the D. Giggidy. Maggette decides to make him work on the other end, and gets to the foul line. He makes only the first, giving him 13 points on the night.

6:06 – Chandler picks up his third foul guarding Kaman down low. Clips are looking for Kaman now. After the free throws, Tyson returns the favor, getting fouled by Kaman while trying to put back his own miss. Timeout LA. The Hornets will be ahead by 8 after Chandler makes the freebies.

CP has started to be a bit more aggressive, keeping the ball in his hands a little longer on offense. It's translating to the Hornets getting some decent looks on offense, and they're making a nice percentage of them. The Clips remain active on defense though, hustling to rotate and challenge shots.

4:07 – West nails a jumper over Powell. He's got 20 points for the sixth straight game.

3:34 – CP misses a tough shot over a Kaman challenge, but Chandler catches it and slams it home, reverse style. They call it an assist; CP's 12th.

Next trip, CP runs the gauntlet and gets fouled. Two free throws later and we've put together a 19-3 run and lead by 14. Thornton comes back in to slow West.

1:17 – Maggette gets a delay of game after a bucket. He got a tech for something trivial a minute earlier.

0:38 – CP oops to Tyson. Another nasty one, but our defense has stopped working. Mobley sinks a 19-footer at the other end, giving the Clips 3 straight productive trips.

A couple missed chances for the Hornets at the end of the quarter, but that was a nice 12 minutes over all. The Clippers looked ready to take control coming out of the half, but we managed to outscore them 30-17. Peja getting hot was key. Now if only we can start the fourth strong and get the starters some rest.

71-58 Hornets heading to the final frame. Bob McGregor tells us the Clippers are 1-17 when trailing after 3.

Fourth Quarter

Hornets: CP, West, Tyson, Jax, V.
Clippers: Frahm, Mobley, Knight, Thornton, Kaman.

11:01 – Jax nice drive and feed to West on the cut. And 1. Hilton swaps in for Tyson and gets a solid stop on Kaman right away. Kid does a great job of staying on his feet and doesn't often fall for pump fakes by opposing bigs. 1-of-9 shooting now for Kaman.

9:40 – Thornton shows his earlier long bomb was no fluke another long jumper. Toe on the line, so only count it for two. 76-63 Hornets.

9:14 – Hilton gets a slam, getting the same feed from Jax that West got two minutes ago. Way to play, Bobby.

6:54 – Mobley to the line, good foul by Bobby on the break, left no doubt. Peja comes back in for Vinicius, who didn't show much this spell. Hornets up 14.

5:50 – Thornton shows more parts of his game. A drive and pull-up, then a fastbreak slam a trip later. 84-72 Hornets. Timeout called by Byron. Thank you, sir. CP comes back in.

3:55 – Tyson great D on Kaman, blocks the shot, but Maggette tosses in a J to beat the shot clock. 19 points for him, 11 point game.

3:04 – Excellent find by West, getting it to Stojakovic in the opposite corner out of the post, and Peja delivers the dagger. 90-74 Hornets. Out of the timeout, all our starters are still in. Byron Scott ain't playing around.

2:23 – West cans two from the stripe. The Hornets are making them pay at the line tonight. Eight free throws made in the fourth alone thus far.

1:57 – West fakes the hand-off to CP, Thornton bites, and it's right down the lane for a vicious dunk. That'll do nicely, Mr. West. He sits for Hilton soon after.

1:23 – CP whips one out from under the basket, but it lands in the crowd. Amazing play, because that's Chris' first turnover of the night. See, if we had a better bench, Chris would be chilling by now and that wouldn't have happened. That, right there, is the real tragedy of the situation.

0:53 – Hornets up 15, Clippers to the line. Byron stays with CP, Mo-Pete and Peja, together with V and Hilton. We'll finish with those five, as CP tries his best to get the Brazilian a bucket before the final buzzer. No joy.

95-81 as the clock ticks to zero.

Chris Paul does the unstoppable

Postgame Thoughts

A nice win, and one we really needed with a back-to-back in Golden State and Phoenix up ahead. I understand that Byron doesn't have much choice but to play the starters heavy minutes right now, but that could haunt us when we have to chase the Suns on Saturday.

But that's all my negativity for today. Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and David West were outstanding tonight. 16 points and 13 assists for CP. 14 points, 15 rebounds and a Kaman lockdown for Chandler. And West? 29 points on 12-of-21 shooting, and 10 rebounds just for the hell of it. His averages for the last six games: 26.3 points and 10.8 rebounds, while shooting .618 from the field and .956 from the line. Beastly.

Great job on the boards tonight overall (46-33 advantage), and I really loved that the Hornets got to the line a lot, and they made most of them too, sinking 25-of-27. That's nice to see after some costly free throw bricks last game.

Wrapping this one up with some linkage: box | recap | standings

Elsewhere tonight, the Mavs blitzed our next opponent, the Warriors, 121-99. That puts Dallas at 21-11 on the season, same as our good selves. Now it's late, must sleep.

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