The Rockets beat the Hornets

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Published: March 9, 2008

I can't be mad at the loss tonight. I'm pretty proud of the way the Hornets played. The Rockets are red hot right now, but we refused to just roll over and give them another win without a fight. We got down big a couple of times, but managed to rally back and make a game of it. "Passion, purpose and pride" was in full effect; Houston just happened to be better on the night.

Bobby Jackson vs. Chris Paul

Notes…

  • Final score was 106-96. Linkage: recap | box score | standings
  • Chris Paul was phenomenal. I noted earlier that we needed an MVP-type effort from him, and after a slow start he definitely came through for us. He finished with 37 points and 11 assists. Couldn't ask for much more out of him. He kept us within striking distance in the second half. Great game, kid.
  • Tracy McGrady gets player of the night though. 41 points (17-27 FGs), 9 assists, 6 rebounds and a couple blocks. It was great to see we started doubling him midway through the second quarter, but then we pretty much deserted that tactic in the second half. It was tough, because he's smart enough to give the ball up and the Rockets as a team swing the ball so well that they end up with a bunch of open jumpers, which of course they were hitting tonight. I think we should have doubled McGrady more though. At least make him work harder. So many times tonight he caught the ball and had time to size up the defense and contemplate his move. Can't let him have that. Force him to put the ball on the floor or pass quickly.
  • Peja was limited against the Rockets for the third time this season. Tonight he had 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting; The previous two against Houston he had 10 points total. Shane Battier just does a great job on him. Dude does not play help defense at all. He has his back to the ball a lot of the time on D, making sure he doesn't lose sight of Stojakovic. As a result, we really had a tough time getting the ball in Peja's hands. With Battier guarding him, the only open looks he got were on broken plays. Peja did heat up a little midway through the second quarter, nailing a pair of threes. No surprise that Battier was on the bench when that happened.
  • When Peja is smothered like that, I'd like to see him and CP work more of a two man game. About five minutes left in the third quarter, Peja set a pick for Chris, Battier and Rafer Alston got caught and had to switch, leaving a couple of mismatches. Rafer ended up fouling Peja on the play. I think if we'd run that same trick a few more times, Peja would have had some easier catches, easier looks at the basket and might have ended up with 20+ points tonight.
  • Another nice outing by Julian Wright. Byron got him in early, he hit his first three shots, and finished with 9 points. I continue to be impressed by his defense. For such a freak of an athlete, he's surprisingly clever about closing out on shooters. I expect him to lunge at the guy for a big-time block, but he stays on his feet and slows himself down as he gets out, minimizing the chance for his man to blow by him.
  • Melvin Ely, you've become a black hole on offense. Seriously dude, try passing the ball back out of the post every once in a while. You're allowed to do that. Byron had Ely out there for for seven minutes spanning the first and second quarters tonight, but sat him the rest of the game after tiring of the selfishness (I don't know how else to say it), turnovers and bricked free throws.
  • With Hilton Armstrong still locked in the doghouse and Chris Andersen paying his dues, that left Tyson Chandler playing heavy minutes at center. In 41 minutes, he had 15 points, 16 boards and a pair of blocks. A nice night's work.

    That said, I can't figure out why Tyson has been shooting the ball so much lately. He's averaging 11.2 shots per game this month, compared to just 5.9 in February. I know West is out right now, but Tyson shouldn't be the guy getting the extra looks on offense. His hook shot is incredibly flat and maybe 30% accurate, and don't get me started on that fadeaway jumper that he tries in the lane. I'd much rather CP or Morris Peterson firing up more shots while West is out.

  • Interesting seeing Jannero Pargo vs. Bobby Jackson out there tonight. Pargo shot horribly and finished with 7 points, but he's earned the green light. He's been having significantly more good nights than bad this season, so I'll live with 3-of-13 from the field every now and then.
  • Get your ass healthy, Bonzi.
  • Mo-Pete got some shots to drop early and finished with 12 points. He had the McGrady assignment through most of the first three quarters. He didn't do a bad job either, but again I would have liked to see T-Mac rushed more. Byron opted to sit Mo for the fourth quarter though, going with the rookie instead. Not a bad idea, but it didn't make much of a difference in the end.
  • Play of the game: Just under two minutes to go in the game, down ten after McGrady put home a rugged reverse. Chris gets down the floor, blows by his man, draws a crowd, and flips it over his shoulder for Tyson to catch in mid-air. Incredible alley-oop.
  • The Hornets and Rockets combined to hit 18 three-pointers in the first half, which is apparently an NBA record. The Rockets ended up shooting 34 threes on the night, making 14 of them. The Hornets were 11-of-21 from deep.
  • Alston and Chandler got into a verbal exchange after the final buzzer. I hate Rafer Alston. He's not invited to my next slumber party. All the Honeybees are.

That loss actually knocks us down to fifth in the Western Conference. The Rockets now have the same record as the Hornets, but own the tie-breaker 2-1. We'll have a chance to even it up on March 19th in New Orleans.

After a bunch of other games tonight, there are now seven teams in the West with at least 40 wins, Golden State (39) and Denver (37) ain't far behind. Crazy days. Philly and Atlanta are the last two seeds in the East right now and neither of them have thirty wins. Bums.

Moving on, and I'm glad we get a break until Wednesday. It's been pretty much non-stop since the All-Star break, no more than a day between games. Unfortunately, our next three opponents are the Spurs, Lakers and Pistons. Two wins out of those three would be great like free cake.

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