The Mavericks beat the Hornets; N.O. leads series 2-1

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Published: April 26, 2008

The Mavericks showed up to play tonight. Whether they were energized by their home crowd, or just desperate not to go down 0-3, they came out aggressive from the start on both ends of the floor, and that made all the difference.

Our Hornets took the Mavs' first punch pretty well, bouncing back from an 11-point first quarter deficit to take a three point lead midway through the second thanks to some nice bench play. It wouldn't last though, as the Mavs kept pounding the paint and running the ball, getting easy points from free throws and fast breaks. The Hornets kept the game from getting completely out of hand in the second half behind some Jannero Pargo heroics, and managed to cut the Mavs 17-point lead down to 7 with two minutes left in the fourth. Then Jason Terry knocked in a dagger three and it was all over.

There will be no sweep. Now we've got a series.

Dirk Nowitzki goes against David West and his crazy shoes in Game 3

Notes…

  • Final score was 97-87. Linkage: recap | box score
  • As stated, the Mavs aggressiveness was the big difference tonight. They were much more physical guarding Chris Paul, and they started Jason Terry in the backcourt so they could have a quicker guy on him from the start. Terry was able to get under the screens and Chris couldn't make him pay, not having his jump shot working and getting his path to the lane blocked by bigs like Dampier, Nowitzki and Bass hedging much better than they did in New Orleans. CP finished the game with 16 points on just 4-of-18 shooting, adding 10 assists.
  • Also struggling mightily tonight was our other All-Star: David West. He just couldn't drop a J from the start, and when that's not working for him he doesn't get those some opportunities off the dribble. When he did manage to get in the paint, Dallas crowded him pretty good and forced him to either give it up or try a tough shot. West finished with 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting, while adding 9 boards.
  • Our rebounding was absolutely horrible in this game. I'd actually go so far as to say that the Hornets poor board work was the biggest reason for the loss tonight. The final rebounding totals were 52-42 in favor of Dallas, and I'm guessing they held a big edge in second chance points, too. There were numerous plays where the Mavs simply outworked our guys to track down an offensive rebound, or sometimes even two on one trip. They just seemed to want it more.
  • Great game by Dirk Nowitzki: 32 points, 11-of-20 shooting, 19 rebounds and 6 assists. That was a man-sized game he delivered when his team really needed it.

    That said, I found it very hard to respect him tonight. He flopped at least three times in the game, including twice where West caught him on the wrist as he was following through on his jumper.

    How the hell does a wrist-tap land you on your ass, Dirk?

    I don't think Nowitzki's a soft player by any means — soft doesn't get you 19 rebounds after all — but it's easy to see how he gets such a reputation when he reacts to light contact like he was tackled by a rhino.

  • Jason Terry is probably my favorite Maverick. He never seems to get down on himself and just keeps plugging away. Tonight he got that start and gave Avery Johnson excellent play on both ends of the floor, defending Chris Paul well while hitting some big shots on offense. He finished with 22 points (8-18 FG's) and 6 assists.
  • Jason Kidd set the tone for Dallas in this one, playing much more assertively from the tip, and making life much tougher for Chris Paul thanks to his constant post-ups. He didn't score much (8pts, 3-6 FG's), but he definitely made the Hornets pay more attention to him offensively, and that opened things up for his teammates. Kidd also finished with 11 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
  • The improved defense and rebounding by the Mavs allowed them to get out and run much more than they did in New Orleans. They held a 23-4 edge in fast break points.
  • Of course, I should note that the Mavs' improved defense didn't help their offense all that much, since their 97 points tonight were 6 fewer than what they scored in New Orleans on Tuesday.
  • Jannero Pargo was the only Hornet who had it working offensively tonight. He helped bring us back from that early deficit by scoring 10 points in the first half, then just went off in the second half when nobody else on the team could score the ball consistently. JP was hitting from all angles, knocking down threes, draining pull-ups, flipping in reverse lay-ups, sinking baseline turnaround fadeaways… just an incredible one-man offensive assault. He was single-handedly keeping the Hornets alive in the second half.

    When it was all said and done, Pargo had dropped 30 points in 32 minutes, shooting 12-of-20 from the field and 4-of-7 from deep.

  • When Pargo was going off, it seemed like our other guys were just standing around and waiting for him to bail us out. I caught that happening a few times. Very little movement off the ball, no picks set on the weak side, nothing like that. It was a lot like watching the Cavaliers.

    (Yes, I did just compare Jannero Pargo to LeBron James. I'm sorry.)

  • Beyond Pargo, our bench play was decent tonight. I thought Hilton Armstrong came in and gave us some solid minutes after Tyson got in early foul trouble. Hilton didn't score, but he made some aggressive moves to the basket and grabbed 6 boards in 12 minutes. Not bad.

    Bonzi Wells also gave us some decent minutes, but nothing too special. We went to him in the post numerous times in the second quarter, but the Mavs weren't liking that and did all they could to make that entry pass difficult, or else they'd send a double team after the catch.

  • Foul trouble plagued the Hornets again. After giving up 38 and then 39 free throws in the first two games, we gave up 38 again tonight. In the third quarter, we fouled five times within the first three and a half minutes, getting into the penalty by the 8:43 mark. Ridiculous.

    Tyson Chandler picked up two fouls within the first three minutes of the game, and that set the tone for him for the night, taking his edge off. He'd finish with 4 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes.

  • I'm not going to complain too much about the officiating tonight. Sure there were a lot of bad calls, but the Hornets can't worry about things they can't control. If we hadn't given up so many offensive rebounds, or maybe if we'd come out and matched the Mavs' intensity, or if Chris Paul and David West had been able to hit even sixty percent of the open looks they got tonigh, or if we'd got back better in transition to limit fast breaks… if we'd done all that and still lost, then maybe I'd bitch about the referees screwing us over. As it is, I don't think I can do that.
  • Chris Paul had zero steals tonight. It's the first time all season he has finished a game without a single steal.
  • About that play by Erick Dampier in the final minute of the game: that was a cheap shot, completely uncalled for. The game's over, your team has won, and you blatantly shove a guy half your size out of bounds? I don't get that.

    And the worst thing about it all? Tyson Chandler got baited in and picked up a technical: his third in three games. Like I stated here before, seven technicals in the Playoffs gets you an automatic one-game suspension, so Tyson needs to start keeping himself in check if he wants to be part of a deep run.

  • Jerry Stackhouse, fresh off his verbal assault on Byron Scott, did not start tonight, played just seven minutes for Dallas, missed both field goal attempts and saw his team get outscored by 8 points while he was on the floor. Oh, and he also got tea-bagged by Julian Wright early in the second quarter. Great game, Jerry. Keep up the good work.

Okay, so the Hornets' losing streak in Dallas continues. What are we at? 14 games now? 26 years?

Whatever. I'm feeling good about the Hornets chances in Game 4. Think of everything that went wrong for us tonight: the foul trouble, the horrible shooting, the piss-poor rebounding, Chris Paul and David West completely off their games, Dirk Nowitzki going nuts for 32 and 19, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd stepping it up, a very hostile crowd, and what the hell, let's even throw in the lousy officiating while we're at it. All that going against us, and we were still right there in the dying minutes with a chance to win it. We end up losing, by just ten points. So what? We beat the Mavs by 12 and 24 on our home floor.

Yeah, I'm feeling pretty good about Game 4, and then the Hornets will be back in New Orleans next week, ready to eliminate and advance.

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