The Hornets Beat the Cavaliers

Published: November 2, 2008

Sorry – I have to get this out of my system – JAMES POSEY, BITCH!

Okay, I’m good now.  I think the good folks over at HornetsHype may be rubbing off on me.

Once again, the wounded Hornets simply out-executed their opponent, beating LeBron’s Cavaliers in their only visit to the New Orleans Arena this season.  The Cavs managed to jump out to a quick lead when Paul went to the bench halfway through the first quarter, but the bugs fought back when LeBron sat down in turn, and the rest of the game was even – until the fourth quarter.

Two minutes into the fourth quarter, Paul comes in for Mike James, and the Hornets kick it into gear, rolling off a 31-15 run and putting the Cavaliers to bed.  There was a lot of good in this game, so let’s get it rolling, bullet style:

  • The Phantom was definitely not invisible out there tonight.  To get a feeling for his impact in the fourth, here’s an excerpt of the play by play.
    • 7:15 James Posey Defensive Rebound
    • 6:41 James Posey forces Jumpball with Zydrunas Ilgasuskas
    • 5:13 James Posey Steals
    • 5:09 James Posey Dunk
    • 4:01 James Posey Rebound
    • 4:00 James Posey draws Foul
    • 4:00 James Posey makes Free Throw 1
    • 4:00 James Posey misses Free Throw 2
    • 3:20 James Posey Defense Rebound
    • 2:56 James Posey Makes 3-point Jumper
    • 2:06 James Posey Personal Foul
    • 2:03 James Posey Personal Foul
    • 1:23 James Posey misses 26-foot Jumper
    • 0:18 David West makes Layup(James Posey Assists)
    • 0:04 James Posey Defensive Rebound
  • The dude was everywhere – and simply involved in everything.  Not included in there is the travel he and West forced LeBron into, and the backcourt violation he helped force near the end.  Clutch and mean.  Fantastic.
  • Hilton Armstrong played well again.  He was active, ran the floor, and his defense was energetic if not always effective.  I was pleased, though somehow, he managed 3 turnovers to go with his 8 points and 5 rebounds.  If he could just hold on to the ball . . .
  • In the fourth quarter, James Posey and Chris Paul took turns guarding LeBron James.  It was wonderful to watch.  Paul would cheat off of Mo Williams every time, standing between him and LeBron and making it impossible for them to get the ball to James.  Typically, James would then set a screen for Mo Williams, and Posey and Paul would switch, allowing LeBron to isolate on Paul.  Not once did LeBron manage to get past the foul line with Paul guarding him.  He always took a bad shot or passed it to someone else – and they were immediately covered by the Hornets swarming help defense.  When LeBron did get the ball with Posey guarding him, he never once had an easy route to the basket, and the one time he beat Posey completely, Posey simply sat on him and made him earn the points at the line.  Great defense.
  • Rasual Butler was awesome.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to write that, since I really felt for him last year as he struggled.  For the first three quarters, he took primary responsibility for defending LeBron James.  He got help of course, but he turned LeBron almost entirely into a passer instead of a scorer.  Sure, LeBron racked up 13 assists, but he also had 5 turnovers, shot only 6-15 for 15 points, and went to the line 4 times total.  Oh – and Butler, once again, stuck his open threes, drilling 3-5, including two huge ones in the fourth quarter.  Nice.
  • The missing piece in Cleveland, Mo Williams, had a hard time with Paul, ending 5-15, 1-5 from three, and with as many turnovers(4) as assists.  Ugly.
  • Ilgauskas simply killed us from the baseline.  He was just too tall for Hilton and Ely to contest properly.  He did, however, start falling apart a little at the end when we started doubling.
  • Tyson and Peja looked sharp in their suits.
  • Paul had a nice 25-15 and cut his turnovers to one.  Tonight, the Cavs played “Pick your Poison” but found all types equally deadly.  In the fourth, the Cavaliers made the decision to start staying home on the shooters, let Paul into the lane, and then make him shoot over a big man.  After Paul drilled two short jumpers, and somehow missed a wide-open layup, they shifted their tactics and started doubling him.  That ended with 3 three pointers and a couple nice David West bombs.  Sorry guys.
  • David West started out rough, and had trouble all game scoring in the paint against Wallace, Ilgauskas and the active Varejao, but his jumper started dropping, and was money in the second half.
  • Ben Wallace played well against the Hornets, grabbing 8 rebounds in the first two quarters and playing great defense on West.  Strangely, the Cavs left him on the bench for most of the second half, instead opting to go with Andersen Varejao, who was energetic defensively, but a disaster offensively.
  • Mike James was terrible.  The offense stagnated when he came in – the other team happily cheated off of him to double West, and he couldn’t make them pay, firing mostly 20-foot two point shots that weren’t even close.  As Mark said in the comments about the game – he’s already on the Hot Seat.  In my season preview I had given him 20 games to start the season before losing his job.  At this rate, he might not make it that long.
  • Devin Brown is definitely slower than I remember, but the guy left it all on the floor.  Twice he went into the paint amongst the giants and battled with the Cavs, coming out with tough offensive rebounds.  On one play in the fourth, the Hornets had Chris Paul and Devin Brown crashing the offensive boards, and they came out with it against four Cavs.  Awesome.
  • Mo-Pete didn’t have the best numbers, but he played solid defense and I liked what he gave.  What’s nice is so far this year we don’t have to have Peterson be on every night.  Posey and Butler can fill in admirably when necessary.

To wrap it up, which option would you rather have for your team at the end of the game – the ball in Paul’s hands on a high screen and roll, or in LeBron’s hands on an Isolation?  For tonight, the answer appears clear:

Chris Paul(4th Quarter) 2-3 FG, 4-4 FT, 5 Assists, 2 Offensive Rebounds, 0 turnovers, 8 points
LeBron James(4th Quarter) 1-3 FG, 3-4 FT, 0 Assists, 0 Offensive Rebounds, 3 turnovers, 5 points.

New Orleans next game isn’t until Wednesday, November 5th.  Hopefully we’ll get Tyson and Peja back and be rolling with all our firepower.

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