The Hornets beat the Warriors

Ah yes, here we go again. Sure, it's only half-assed preseason action, but I still got me a much needed fix of Hornets basketball tonight at the Arena. Nothing like catching up with the random people at the Buzz Fest, checking out the funky new court in person and witnessing some middle-aged dude ripping his shirt off on the Dance Cam. New Honeybees are always good, too.

But let's talk about the actual basketball that was played by the basketball players. Our Hornets wound up winning tonight thanks to some super-awesome clutch hustle buckets from Ryan Bowen. That might never happen again, so savor it. David West was a horse as usual and did some nice work inside. Tyson Chandler crumpled in the first quarter and didn't return. Looked like an ankle tweak but he walked off court without assistance and was up cheering from the bench for the rest of the game. I assume the injury is nothing serious. Chris Paul started out easy but was pulling playoff moves in the third quarter. Just ask Andris Biedrins.

Hilton Armstrong goes up, but not very strong

The main three guys I was focusing on tonight though were Mike James, Hilton Armstrong and Julian Wright. I'd consider those guys to be enigmas for the Hornets this season. Everyone else on the squad, we pretty much know what to expect. So here's my notes on those three…

Mike James
He didn't start well, turning the ball over as soon as he got in the game and then hitting Corey Maggette in the face trying to recover. Seemed like he was looking to score a lot in the first half and his shot wasn't dropping too good. Overall, he handled the ball pretty well, manning the point even when Devin Brown was in the game. He looked to push the ball and created numerous opportunities because of that. Got beat bad a few times defensively, especially along the baseline. He finished with 12 points, 5 assists and 2 turnovers in 26 minutes. Bit of a rollercoaster performance from James but not a bad game.

Hilton Armstrong
Hilton had a very nice showing overall, getting plenty of burn due to Chandler's injury and 14 points (6-9 FGs), 4 boards and 3 dimes in 24 minutes. Looks like he's been working on his jumper because he nailed at least two 16-footers. He seemed pretty confident out there, too, never really lost, running to the right spot every time and getting rewarded with easy buckets. He stayed active on both ends and he defended the pick and roll well from the few times I can recall him stepping up to it. The bad news is that he still gets pushed around too easily, getting easily boxed out for rebounds and stopped at the rim more often than he should. He's got great athleticism, and that was on display a few times tonight, but it's almost a bad thing because he uses it a lot to avoid contact when he'd be better served just going up strong.

Julian Wright
Like Armstrong, he appeared pretty confident out there, but maybe that just comes with the knowledge that these preseason games are meaningless. He was all over the box score as usual, finishing with 8 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 3 steals and a couple of turnovers. He was looking to drive a lot in the first half, and he was pretty decisive all game, only getting caught in the air once that I can recall. I wonder how he feels about James Posey rocking the high socks.

Some other quick observations and I'm done:

  • Oh, let's do the linkage: box | recap
  • Byron rolled with a five of James, Brown, Wright, Posey and Armstrong for a good stretch of the second quarter. That was a pretty good unit, causing havoc due to the length of the bigger three and matching up well with the small-ball Warriors.
  • You think defenses might pay more attention to David West this season?
  • Just saw that the attendance was announced as 14,691. I knew it was an impressive crowd for a preseason game, but damn! I think we might have beat that figure only twice in the first three months last season.
  • During a timeout in the second quarter, Hugo pulls a dude in a Vikings jersey and helmet from the crowd, tells him to go long and throws a football in his direction down court. Que a dude in a Reggie Bush jersey coming from the blind side and smashing the Viking. I mean he hit him real hard. All staged of course, but it got a great reaction from the crowd and it's nice to see the Hornets acknowledging the Saints stuff. Win-win. (Update: pics on HR.)
  • Ely played pretty well tonight, displaying a few nifty moves down low and getting some tidy hooks to drop. But every time he'd match up against Ronny Turiaf down low, I couldn't help but wonder if Poppa Ely had spent some time in France back in the early 80's.

Hornets back at it with the preseason action Wednesday at Indiana. Thems Pacers gonna get messed up in the fourth quarter, because that's Bowen's shine time, baby.

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