The Hornets beat the Heat
The Hornets finally stopped sucking last night, snapping out of a two-game slide with a 100-89 win over the visiting Miami Heat. Let’s dive right to bullet mode. Apologies in advance for the complete lack of coherence. Killed my brain last night.
- Let’s start with a happy-positive-feel-good bullet: Chris Paul did the 20/10 thing again. First player in the history of the universe to start the season with six such games. Freak. Miami couldn’t keep from fouling him every five seconds last night. Yakhouba Diawara (or “Alphabet” as Mikey’s dad was calling him) was whistled for four on CP in less than 90 seconds during the third quarter. Mario Chalmers had similar problems.
- Twas a nicely balanced attack we showed. Six guys scored in double figures, and Rasual Butler threw in 8 just to be different. We got to the line a bunch, rebounded well and took care of the basketball. Hard to lose when you’re doing all that.
- And yet, I can’t say I’m overjoyed with how we played. I felt this was a game we should have won by millions. Give or take. Miami didn’t look all that good. They actually looked a lot like the Hornets did the previous two games, with one guy killing but nobody really stepping up to help him. Not a great sign when West and Paul have to play almost 40 minutes each against a team like that. Wednesday could be very ugly against the Lakers unless we can step it up a whole lot.
- Mike James didn’t suck. Looked like Byron had him giving the ball up early when he checked in during the first quarter. That worked well. I don’t think he’ll ever be the pure playmaker we’d like him to be so I guess it’s best not to force it. Dude did go a little NBA Live freestyle mode in the fourth quarter though. That always makes me sad. Even so, we had a 14-point lead when Chris Paul came back in. Would have been nice to keep James out there a little longer and see what happened.
- What ever happened to the Paul-West pick and pop? We haven’t seen that much this season. I asked Joe Block about it on the postgame show at Ernst’s Cafe last night, and his read was that teams have just been ready for it and they’re taking it away. That’s probably true, but it seems like we’re not even trying to run it at all now.
- Yet again, West couldn’t really get in a flow. He missed a few open jumpers and had deja vu with the double teams, though Miami didn’t send them quite as fast and furious as Charlotte and Atlanta. Workhorse that he is though, West kept at it last night, and punched out with a nice 21 and 9 line.
- Some nice jams in the game. Finally we got to see the Crescent City Connection back in action. Looked like therapy for Tyson, who notched his first double-double since opening night. Julian Wright got some PT, and exploded for a put-back right off the bench. His J was short all night but a nice return for the kid all the same. Top of the slams last night was a put-back Wade constructed in the third quarter. Nastiness.
- Speaking of Wade, it’s nice to see him back to his old self. Quite a game he had against us, finishing with 30 points, 10 assists and 6 boards. James Posey had himself a nightmare trying to keep Wade out of the lane. The help behind was nice for stretches but nonexistent too many times. We defended him decently on the high picks, but he hurt us bad when he was isloated at the top of the circle. Posey finished up scoreless but gave us some nice nonboxscore stuff as usual. Loved that charge he drew on Wade in the first quarter. He acted like he was going after Wade’s pass fake, then slid right back into his path. Beautiful.
- I like that Chris Quinn kid. Easy guy to root for, since he looks like a 12-year old and he’s got some New Orleans connections. CP went roaming on D a few too many times last night and Quinn made him pay by dropping 4-of-7 threes. He’ll be the popular kid at school tomorrow morning.
- Beasley is nice. He’s a much better shooter than I expected, deadly from 15 to 20 feet, and he’s got some nice moves around the basket.
- 12 points for Peja, all from deep. We missed him a few times in the fourth quarter when he had serious mismatches. Quinn was guarding him for a couple of trips and then Chalmers at least once. That should always be a post up and an easy fade for two. It’s like we completely forget about Peja offensively for long stretches each night. He could easily be giving us 20 per if he got more looks.
- Also, when did David West start shooting all our technical free throws? He’s nice from the line and everything, but Peja’s a laser from there.
- Hilton Armstrong has probably been the most pleasant surprise for the Hornets so far this season. He was nice in preseason but we’d seen that before. Now he’s doing it for real. He was active again last night, finishing with 5 boards and 3 points in 16 minutes. He kept a few possessions alive by getting a hand in there and slapping it out for a reset. It helped of course that the Heat have nothing resembling a true center, but Hilton’s had enough good showings now that I no longer crap my pants when Byron calls his number.
- How about this unit that we rolled with in the second quarter: James, Wright, Butler, Posey and Armstrong. We looked like the Atlanta Hawks out there with all those arms. Quite a nice five as long as the shots are dropping.
- Second sellout of the season. 17,701 free chicken wraps.
So a win is a win and everything and we’ve stopped the bleeding for now. Should be interesting to see how Wednesday goes. Now excuse me while I go become one with my couch for whatever’s left of the weekend.