The Hornets beat the Celtics
Twas a glorious time at the New Orleans Arena tonight.
The Boston Celtics, owners of the NBA's best record, sweepers of Texas and hyped by all the media in the land, came into the Hive and found out first-hand what we've been seeing all season: The Hornets are for real.
Notes from 305…
- Final score was 113-106. Linkage: recap | box score | standings
- The Hornets were playing catch-up for most of the night, after the Celtics roared out of the gate and dropped 65 points in the first half. The defense tightened later though, and the C's couldn't keep up their other-worldly shooting, allowing our guys to narrow the gap and finally take the lead midway through the fourth quarter on a dunk by David West. We didn't look back.
- Chris Paul was seriously hampered by foul trouble all night. He played just 29 minutes, but managed to come up big when it mattered most, knocking down two colossal jumpers in the final three minutes to keep the Celtics at bay. He finished the game with 19 points, 7 assists and 2 steals.
- Paul's counterpart, Rajon Rondo, had himself a game, scoring 23 and dishing 7. He ripped through the Hornets defense numerous times for layups, especially in the first half.
- Nobody outshone David West on the night though. The Hornets All-Star dropped 37 points (15-25 FGs, 7-7 FTs) on the NBA's best defense. He started out hot, scoring eight early points on Kevin Garnett, then went and scored 13 points in the fourth quarter. Stuff of legend.
- Despite the Celtics dropping 65 points on us in that first half, I didn't think our defense sucked all that much. Boston just have a billion weapons. There were times when we'd double Garnett or Paul Pierce, then rotate real well to cover on the pass, but the C's would keep swinging it and find someone open. And it just so happens that pretty much everybody on that team can shoot. You can't leave Ray Allen open, you can't leave Eddie House open, and even Rondo and Garnett can shoot the long J. You just have to hope they don't keep hitting all night, and luckily they didn't in this one.
- So much credit has to go to the crowd for the win tonight. I have never seen the Arena so packed so early. Folks were really amped for this one, and it got foundation-shakingly loud down the stretch. After Garnett appeared to get away with an elbow late in the third quarter, everybody flashed back to the Spurs game two weeks ago and started to boo the Celtics every time down the floor. Insanely loud boos. That lasted for the rest of the game, and probably had a lot to do with all those Boston turnovers in the fourth quarter.
- Attendance was announced as 18,280, which was a whole 81 people more than the Laker game last week. Biggest crowd of the season.
I remember my first game at the Arena back in December, Pistons in town. 10,312 in the building, not much noise from anyone. We got beat bad. Fast forward three months, and we've got a legitimate homecourt advantage. Way to step up, New Orleans.
- Lots of famous faces in the crowd, shown on the big screen throughout the night. Among them: Glenn Dorsey, Deuce McAllister, Mike McKenzie, Bobby Hebert and Michael Lewis. Oh, and that Jared guy from the Subway commercials. You know, the dude that has nothing to do with football and used to be real fat.
- Shit, I haven't even mentioned Bonzi Wells yet. The fifth ninja turtle was of course a major reason for the win tonight. He played 26 minutes, scoring 12 points and coming up with 8 steals. Yes, eight steals, six of them in the fourth quarter. Also, according to the Yahoo box score, the Hornets were +23 when Bonzi was on the floor tonight. Incredible.
I must say, Jeff Bower is looking like a genius right about now. Without that trade going down, there's no way we would have won the last two games.
- Also playing big off the bench was Jannero Pargo. From Jim Eichenhofer's observations…
Speaking of Paul’s foul trouble, Pargo was the main reason why New Orleans didn’t fall apart with its best player sidelined. The 6-foot-1 backup guard has had a very rough March, shooting 29.4 percent from the field entering Saturday’s game. Against Boston though, he made several huge shots, scoring 15 points in 21 minutes, on 6-for-10 shooting, including three three-pointers.
Never scared. Pargo also had six assists, because deep down he knows that sharing is caring.
- Our rebounding pretty much sucked tonight, as we got out-worked on the glass, 44-29. However, we did come up with some big boards when it mattered most. Leading the window cleaning was none other than Tyson Chandler, who grabbed 9 while also scoring 9 points. His defense on Garnett was also key tonight. Get blocked on your jumper much, KG?
- It was Hugo's birthday at the Hive tonight. Mascots from Houston, Orlando, Indiana, Boston and somewhere else were there to help celebrate. Unfortunately, I forgot to buy Hugo a present. He's probably real pissed at me right about now.
- Must admit, the turnout of Celtics fans tonight was pretty damn impressive. I didn't think they could top the amount of Laker fans here last week, but that they did. Rowdy bunch they were, too. There were three guys behind me who were proudly proclaiming Celtic superiority all evening. Well, almost all evening. They got real quiet with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Funny that.
- Play of the game? I guess that has to go to Chris Paul, for dropping that impossible nowhere-to-go corner jumper at the shot clock buzzer with 2:16 left in the fourth quarter. The crowd was deathly silent while that one was in the air, then exploded when it found the bottom of the net. Six-point lead, thank you very much.
- Earlier in the season, the Hornets used to group together and form a circle after the pregame introductions. They'd join hands, then run in and out, expanding and collapsing the circle. To be honest, it was pretty lame.
Thankfully, they've abandoned that in favor of a tighter circle with one player throwing out some funky dance moves in the center. I first noticed it on TV last week before the Detroit game. Julian Wright was getting busy in the middle. Tonight I think it was Mike James busting moves.
I eagerly await Ryan Bowen's turn.
- The last three fourth quarters, the Hornets have outscored their opponents 96-40. I'm no doctor, but methinks that's good.
All in all, this was a huge win for the Hornets. I think it speaks volumes about this team's character and talent that we can battle back and be competitive against such a great Celtics team despite Chris Paul being stuck on the bench due to foul trouble. Some folks who make the case for Chris as MVP talk about how poor his supporting cast is compared to Kobe and the Lakers, or Garnett and the Celtics. Sure, we don't have the big names down here, but we have a bunch of guys that are getting it done, and they've been doing it all season long. Time to recognize.
Moving on, and now the Hornets embark on a six-game road trip, their longest of the season. That starts with the Pacers on Tuesday, followed by stops in Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Orlando and Miami.
Beating the Celtics in Boston is gonna be real tough, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For tonight at least, we're better than they are. Feels good, doesn't it?