The Hornets beat the Nuggets

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Published: November 28, 2008

It’s no secret that the Hornets have been struggling this season. The offense has often looked stagnant, the defensive effort has been lacking, and Bill Simmons thinks he has a feeling that maybe there could be some tension brewing between Byron Scott and Chris Paul. Recent beat downs of some of the L’s worst teams hadn’t given me much reason for optimism as the Hornets rolled into Denver to play the red-hot Nuggets tonight. Right at game time, we learned that Tyson Chandler would be unavailable, and then the Hornets came out of the gate like they were drunk on stuffing and dug themselves into a 12-4 hole. I was about to hit the whiskey and call it a night.

But then our guys sobered up, the shots started dropping, Kenyon Martin was Kenyon Martin, and before you knew it we were witnessing the best performance of the young season by the Hornets. It came down to the wire and we emerged with the W, but I would have had little to complain about even if we had lost the game tonight. It was a great team effort, a win we worked hard for and truly deserved.

Let’s get to some of them green bean casserole flavored bullets…

  • Rasual Butler stepped up big-time. Most of his 19 points came in the first 30 minutes of the game, but he shot the ball real well and also did an admirable job slowing Chauncey Billups. Seems Byron opted not to have CP guarding Billups too much, and Rasual’s lanky D was a big reason for the Nuggs’ point guard finishing with just 12 points (4-12 FGs) and 5 assists. Worth noting too that this was the first home defeat for Billups and the Nuggets since the Iverson trade. They were 5-0 coming in.
  • Great job keeping the Nuggets off the line. They only got up four free-throws in the first half, and finished with 22 attempts total. They average about 33 a game on the season.

  • I really liked that neither of our All-Stars went off tonight, we were without two starters, on the road, against a serious ball club, and we still came away with the win. Maybe we need to get back that underdog mentalityto get rolling again. Damn lofty expectations and Finals predictions might have had us in a daze.
  • And yeah, I realize that Chris Paul finished with 22 and 10 tonight, but I didn’t think it was one of his better games. Only then I saw that he had a plus/minus of +21, so I’m probably a dumbass.
  • West struggled plenty. He front-rimmed just about every jumper he took and had numerous costly lapses on the defensive end. He did come up with a big bucket off a CP airball down the stretch, but it was definitely a forgettable game for him.
  • Kenyon Martin killed the Nuggets out there, and I’m not just saying that because I don’t like the guy. He couldn’t knock down those open 17-footers, he looked lost on defense (resulting in a bunch of open shots for our guys), and he got called for a costly technical with 85 seconds left in the fourth. I’m oh-so glad he’s not on my team.
  • For his first trick, Sean Marks will dunk on your ass.
  • The Hornets shot 12-23 from deep, and 27-29 from the line. Them’s good numbers. Peja dropped 4-7 from behind the arc, his first time shooting better than .500 from that distance all season. Posey also came up big with a huge-mega-collossal triple with 19 seconds left in the game. He does that sometimes.
  • J.R. Smith killed us. He was on fire all game, finishing with 32 points on 13-21 shooting. He was hurting us inside and out, burning a few different guys that Byron put on him. Smith scored 9 points early in the fourth but then Posey switched to cover him for a few minutes and that was the end of that.
  • The offense is getting better. Slowly but surely. The hot shooting helped disguise some of the same old problems tonight, but there were numerous offensive trips where the stagnation was really evident. For example, that deep three that Chris hit late in the fourth was pretty much a desperation heave after a bunch of dribbling and not much movement. Likewise, that late tip by West came about after we held the ball for an enternity, then ran a pick and roll which resulted in CP heaving a fadeaway over Nene. We were lucky that those shots dropped tonight. There’s still a lot of progress that needs to be made.

I’ll leave it there. Hornets back at it in Portland tomorrow night. Gonna be a tough one, but hopefully TC will be back and the confidence will be up after tonight’s big win.

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