The Hornets beat the Rockets

Published: March 20, 2008

A fine game at the Arena tonight. The Hornets sputtered through the first half before turning it on after intermission and blitzing the visiting Rockets. Rafer Alston didn't feel much like talking afterwards.

David West, Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler reflect on a good night's work

Let's dive into the notes…

  • Final score was 90-69 ( box score | recap | standings ). We had a tough time scoring in the first half, fell into a 14-point hole, and trailed 44-39 at the break. The defense was pretty solid from the start though, and only got better in the second half, when we limited Houston to just 25 points while scoring 51 at the other end.
  • Much credit goes to Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler in this one. They had just 13 points between them, but I figure they were the keys on defense tonight. Byron Scott opted to have Peja guard Tracy McGrady one-on-one for most of the game, which sounds a bit like a death wish when you say it out loud. The Serb more than held his own though. He played right up on T-Mac, not allowing him the room to catch, ponder and shoot like he did a couple of weeks ago when he dropped 41 on us.

    Of course, playing so tight meant McGrady blew by Peja every so often, but the rest of our guys did a much better job of clogging the lane, then rotating to cover the shooters. When the Rockets did end up with deep open looks, they mostly misfired. As a team they finished 2-of-19 from downtown.

  • Chandler was one of those guys doing the lane clogging, but he also did a fantastic job of the old flash-and-recover against Houston's high picks. He'd end up chasing Rafer Alston or whoever almost out to halfcourt, then dash back under the basket before Houston could swing the ball and find the open man. He must be dog tired after all that. It looked like he was running suicides out there, he was back and forth so much in the halfcourt D.
  • The offense was mostly taken care of by Chris Paul and David West for the first three quarters. CP finished with 21 points, 10 assists, 4 steals, 4 rebounds, and an uncharacteristic 5 turnovers. West got right back to work after missing two games with that ankle injury. He worked hard for 23 points and 11 boards.
  • The fourth quarter belonged to Bonzi Wells. We were tied at 59 entering the final frame. Bonzi outscored the Rockets 20-10 the rest of the way.

    He got his buckets a million different ways, too. He was attacking the basket and putting home tough layups, then posting up on Shane Battier and dropping baseline fadeaways. He shot five free throws and made them all, then even threw a cherry on top with a corner three-ball with 1:17 left in the game.

  • The thing I love most about Bonzi is that he's steady offense off the bench, which could not be said of Bobby Jackson. Throw Wells the rock down low and he'll get you some points on the board, while also giving up nothing on the defensive end (3 blocks and 2 steals for Bonzi tonight). I'm loving that trade more and more as the games go by.
  • Another solid performance by Julian Wright tonight. He was his usual hyperactive self, running the break, grabbing rebounds, making some funky passes. He also got to guard T-Mac for most of the fourth quarter, and did a fine job.

    Worth noting JuJu's stats since he started getting significant PT. In the past eight games, he's averaging 10.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 turnovers in 22.4 minutes. In that same stretch, he's been shooting 58.7 percent from the floor and has knocked down 5-of-10 three-pointers.

  • Attendance tonight was announced as 17,956. Make that seven sellouts in the past twelve home games. It's almost to the point where it's not a big deal anymore, which in itself is kind of a big deal.
  • Play of the game: 4:20 left in the fourth, Hornets lead it by 13, and it's now or never for the Rockets. Alston calls for a pick on the wing, then opts to go baseline. West and Paul come at him hard with a trap to the corner, and Rafer ends up being hassled out of bounds. Hornets ball, and the capacity crowd roars its approval. Chris brings it up court and is fouled semi-hard by Alston before he has a chance to blow by him again. Seconds later, Rafer gets T'd up for talking too much.

    Ah yes, that was the high-point for me.

  • Halftime show tonight was called Red Panda Acrobat, which was basically one Asian chick balancing atop a really tall unicycle while flipping an increasing number of plastic bowls from her foot to her head. She kicked five up there at the end and the crowd just about died of disbelief.
  • Fresh from John Reid's latest on

    Chris Paul facetiously said he wished he could be half as good as Alston thinks he is.

    "He called out one of our players," Paul said. "But I've never seen Rafer in an All-Star Game. David played in one this year (in New Orleans).

    "(Tracy McGrady) is a great player, and if I were Rafer, I would ride his coattails, too."

  • I like Luis Scola. Dude's got some nice moves inside. And how does he keep his hair looking so manly?
  • So what's up with Jannero Pargo? He went scoreless in 14 minutes tonight, missing all four field goal attempts. In the ten games so far this month, he's averaging 6.6 points on 29.4 percent shooting, compared to February averages of 11.3 points on 44.3 percent shooting.

    Maybe the trade knocked him off. Before he could share point guard duties with Bobby Jackson in the second unit, but now his main job off the bench is to distribute the ball and run the offense. Or maybe not. I have yet to figure out the cause of his recent struggles.

  • After the Rockets scored a season-low 74 points against the Boston Celtics yesterday, Tracy McGrady told the media that he had never seen a better defense in his 11-year pro career. So here's me wondering how he feels about the Hornets defense that held his team to a new season-low of 69 points.

That win puts us back on top of the mighty Western Conference. Technically, we're tied with the Lakers and their identical 46-21 record, but we're above them in the standings because Chris Paul has nicer shoes.

Moving on, and we've got the Boston Celtics up next at the Hive on Saturday. That should be a trip. Beyond that there starts a six-game East coast road trip, which can only mean earlier games and faster recaps. Rejoice.

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