The Hornets beat the Cavs

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Published: March 27, 2008

What a finish.

I was just about ready to criticize David West's performance against the Cavaliers tonight. He couldn't get a body on Anderson Varejao all game, didn't get his first rebound until the third quarter, passed up several open jumpers, shot the ball poorly and never figured out the double teams down low.

But then he goes and hits the gamer, erasing the late heroics of LeBron James and breaking the Cavaliers' hearts along with their nine-game win streak at the Q. West might have struggled up until those final seconds, but once again he left the floor shining bright.

David West celebrates his game-winner against the Cleveland Cavaliers

Notes from the Hornets 49th win of the season…

  • Final score was 100-99 ( recap | box score | standings ). It was pretty close throughout, with neither team amassing a double-digit lead at any point. With 12 seconds left in the game, LeBron took it right down the middle to put the Cavs ahead by one, then the Hornets answered with that jumper by West out of a timeout. Less than a second left, no timeouts for the Cavaliers. Thank you, Cleveland, and good night.
  • Chris Paul shot horribly, finishing 5-of-17 from the floor for 15 points. Everything else he did was amazing. He racked up 20 assists, including that last-gasp dish to West after drawing the entire city of Cleveland into the paint.

    He was throwing incredible passes all game, like that one to Peja Stojakovic at the beginning of the third quarter, where Chris found himself double-teamed on the low block, yet somehow managed to find his sniper on the far wing for an open triple. By halftime, Chris had 11 assists racked up, while the Cavs had dished just 9 between them.

    Oh, and Chris also managed to pick up 2 steals while turning the ball over just once. He'll be wearing his underwear over his shorts any day now.

  • LeBron James also had a sub-par shooting night, sinking just 6-of-14 for 21 points, the same amount he scored in New Orleans almost three months ago. This time though, LeBron can't blame it on Bourbon Street.

    Our defense on James was pretty good. Peja was actually checking him most of the game, and definitely deserves credit for his efforts. As always though, it has to be a team effort to slow a guy like LeBron, and I thought everybody did a pretty good job helping out tonight. We might have even been a little too focused on that dude, which could explain the numerous open looks we gave up to his teammates.

  • I know I just got done praising Peja's D, but I must say I was surprised to see him guarding James out high on the Cavs' last offensive trip. I would have expected Byron to give Bonzi that assignment. Can't be faulting Scott too much these days, though. Everyone was expecting a Hornets' fade after the All-Star break but Coach hasn't let it happen.
  • On the offensive end, Peja started ice cold tonight, missing his first six shots. But man did he ever heat up. He knocked down 8-of-10 the rest of the way, including six triples. When just about everyone else was misfiring down the stretch, it was Peja who kept us afloat by dropping 11 points in less than five minutes. Keep doing what you do, foreign dude.
  • Also not from this country is Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who gave us fits tonight. He was scoring inside and out and never seemed to miss, to the point where I swear he was hitting shots he didn't even take. At the end of it all he had a season-high 29 points to go along with 15 rebounds.
  • Big Z was a tough cover for Tyson Chandler, who always seems to get burned by bigs that can step out and hit the long J. Our pivot didn't have himself a bad game though, finishing with 13 points and 11 boards. He caught some nice lobs from CP early, and came up with a massive put-back late. Solid game overall, just needs to figure out how to guard those big shooters.
  • Overall we got slaughtered on the boards, 48-33. Varejao and Ilgauskas combined for 15 offensive rebounds, giving the Cavaliers way too many second chance opportunities. The Hornets have now been out-rebounded in four straight games, with the opposition grabbing an average of 9.5 extra boards during that stretch.
  • CST sideline reporter Jordy Hultberg grabbed assistant coach Paul Pressey for a quick chat after the second quarter came to a close. They wrapped it up with this exchange:

    Jordy: You're looking good tonight, my friend.

    Pressey: I'm just tryin' to get like you.

  • West's line for the night: 20 points, 7-of-19 FGs, 6 boards, 4 assists, 3 turnovers.
  • Damon Jones seems to have the same arrogance as our friend Rafer Alston, but has even less game to back it up. Jones came in the game tonight late first quarter, and acted like he was some kind of superstar after he dropped a quick three. He didn't seem so cocky though when he got blocked a minute later by Bonzi Wells, or when Peja faked him out of his shoes in the fourth quarter.
  • The Cavaliers celebrated the 3,000th broadcast of radio announcer Joe Tait at halftime. Dude looked a lot like a much older version of Chuck, the Hornets PA announcer at the Arena. Anyone know Chuck's last name?
  • Great stuff in Jim Eichenhofer's latest five observations post, where he calls the victory over the Cavs our most impressive road win since the All-Star break. Jim's thoughts on the play of Chris Andersen tonight…

    The 6-foot-10 backup center totaled eight minutes of playing time Wednesday, but he was the second reserve to enter the game, at 1:25 of the first quarter. His lone scratch on the stat sheet came in the form of a three-point play, a confident drive to the rim. Meanwhile, neither Melvin Ely nor Ryan Bowen got into the game Wednesday. Hilton Armstrong was a healthy inactive for the second straight night.

    Also some nice details in there regarding the Hornets "no-frills" campaign to promote Byron Scott as Coach of the Year. Check it out.

  • Jannero Pargo had a better game than yesterday. He didn't shoot great (4-of-11) and missed that wide-open three late, but he gave us 13 points and 4 boards off the bench. I can live with a bad shooting night from Pargo so long as he isn't taking real bad shots. Against the Cavs, he didn't appear to be forcing it.
  • Pargo got 24 minutes of burn, which included the entire fourth quarter. Morris Peterson did start the game despite that knock he got against the Pacers yesterday, but Byron only had him in there for 19 minutes.
  • From the AP recap

    Stojakovic (1,389) moved past Antoine Walker into eighth place in career 3-pointers.

  • Play of the game tonight? It was either that uncontested layup by Sasha Pavlovic in the first quarter or David West's game-winner. Tough call.

Next up our Hornets will travel to Boston for a Friday rematch with those same Celtics we beat last week. Something tells me the C's still remember that game and are not entirely satisfied with the way it turned out for them. Could be trouble.

But that's all in the future. Let's kick back and savor the moment. Now is a fine time where the memory of a David West dagger is still fresh, the Hornets have won five straight, and the Bobcats lead the Lakers by double-digits in the third quarter.

Life is good.

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