The Hornets beat the Thunder (again)

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Published: November 23, 2008

Chris Paul leaves Nick Collison in the dustHo hum.

That’s pretty much my reaction to the game tonight. We certainly didn’t dominate like we did last night in Oklahoma City, but it was a pretty good game for the fans, Chirs Paul and David West put up sexy numbers, and there’s free Popeyes chicken wraps for anyone who wants one.

Let’s get to some quick bullets so I can jump back out the door and spend the night fighting crime. Or getting drunk. Either/or…

  • OKC were within 5 with five minutes left in the ballgame. They didn’t turn the ball over half as much tonight and they had guys nailing jumpers all game. I’m disappointed with how the Hornets came out though, giving up 30 points in the first quarter. Our D continued to suck well into the second quarter — I remember looking up at the scoreboard early in the period to see that OKC were shooting a ridiculous 67% from the field — until finally we clamped down and held them scoreless for almost five minutes.
  • A lot of those early Thunder points came off dunks and layups. We got beat numerous times on backdoor cuts and the help was just atrocious. Methinks all those easy buckets gave the Thunder some early confidence, which helped them keep the game tight until late in the fourth. If we had come out with some energy on D, I’m sure this would have been another blowout. I mean, Chris Paul had an insane triple double, while West had his best offensive game of the young season (thanks for not doubling, OKC), and yet there we are fighting off the league’s worst team in the fourth quarter. Not a great sign.
  • Devin Brown turned his right ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return. Byron opted not to play Mike James, instead pushing CP to 44 minutes and rolling with a lineup of Wright, Butler, Posey, West and Hilton for a significant stretch in the fourth. Yeah, Rasual would be the shortest of those guys at 6-7, and we had West bringing the ball up the floor several times. As mW (he of Hornets Hype) noted after the game, you can look at Byron’s decision not to play James one of two ways: One, watching Mike James play offends Byron’s eyes, hence Byron doesn’t play Mike James. Two, if it were any other team we were playing, James would have been out there, because nobody else would allow our 6-9, 240lb power forward to dribble the ball up the floor untouched. So I guess you have to ask yourself who sucks worse: Mike James, or the Thunder?

  • No idea how long Dev is out for. He was on the floor for a minute after he hurt that ankle, but then got up and seemed to shake it off a bit before heading to the tunnel. I didn’t notice if he returned to the bench. Needless to say, we’ll suffer if he misses a few games.
  • Peja and Rasual — the latter starting again with Mo Pete still out — hit three long bombs between them in the first quarter, but couldn’t do much damage beyond that. I’ve no idea what’s wrong with Peja, but it’s painful to watch. We actually fed him the ball to take advantage of mismatches (such as Earl Watson) tonight, and he didn’t get anything from them. He also airballed a wide open jumper with about eight minutes left in the third. Bad Peja. Stop being broke. Play better.
  • As for Rasual, he at least did a solid job on Kevin Durant defensively. Oh, except for whenever KD decided to go baseline.
  • You know it’s bad for OKC when Chris Wilcox is your go-to guy in the fourth quarter. You know it’s bad for New Orleans when we can’t stop him.
  • Tyson Chandler: 8 points and 5 rebounds in 35 minutes. I can’t wait till Mrs. Ceiling Fan pops that kid out and life returns to normal for our big fella. Hopefully the baby wait is all that’s throwing his game off. Right now he’s falling very far shy of those goals he set for himself at the start of the season.
  • Hilton made some contributions. He came up with a nice block early in the fourth and put 6 points on the board in 13 minutes. One of those buckets came off a nice drop step move in the post, where he spun baseline and fired in a lefty hook. Unfortunately Hilt managed to grab only one rebound and of course he had a turnover.
  • Would have been nice to see Ryan Bowen out there tonight. I thought he earned it with his play in OKC. Oh well.
  • Thanks to Terry and Meredith for hooking me up with a lower bowl seat for this one, right beside the Hornets tunnel. I could have reached out and touched Sean Marks as he walked by. You know, if I wanted to.

So, what do these two games against OKC prove? Well, not much. I’m glad the loss to the Kings remains the low point, but beating the NBA’s worst team twice in two nights doesn’t exactly get me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I haven’t seen much different from us offensively in these past two games, and we’re still not bringing nearly enough energy to the defensive end for 48 minutes. And now we’ve got a three-game road trip coming up, starting with Monday’s showdown with Baron Davis and the Clippers. Should be an interesting week.

(Photo credit: Tyler Kaufman)

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