The Hornets skinned the Grizzlies
This game was over once the second unit had given up it’s requisite 9-0 run to the other team at the start of the second quarter. Then Byron put inserted West and things got back under control as the Hornets eventually stretched the lead to 32 in the third quarter. The fourth was garbage time – which meant our garbage players were in and we only scored 16 points to their 26, but hey, who cares, right?
- CP3 had 21 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and only one turnover. In thirty minutes. He shot 8-11. It seems almost ho-hum now, so I should point this out: Chris Paul now has 13 games where he had at least 20 points and 10 assists. The rest of the league’s Point Guards combined have 16: B. Davis(3), Billups(2), Nash(2), Augustin(1), TJ Ford(1), Ridnour(1), Bibby(1), Devin Harris(1), Foye(1), Calderon(1), Duhon(1). Paul is insane.
- OJ Mayo scored 18 for the Grizzlies. He was the only player aggressively attacking the Hornets when the game was still in doubt, and he made some tough shots. Rasual was draped all over him, forcing him into fadeaways on every half-court shot but two, and OJ made them. Very impressive.
- Tyson had a rough game. He was stepping out on the perimeter too aggressively, and it got him into foul trouble. He was also absolutely determined to score in the post – something that never turns out well. I will say this one thing for the Grizzly defense – they never once bit on the free-throw line pick and roll, forcing Paul out while successfully bodying Chandler and stopping the lob. Of course, that left West open, but hey, at least they can say they stopped it.
- Speaking of Fluffy, he only took one jumper this game, instead rumbling around in the paint with a series of nice hooks and up and unders. He knew there was no one on the Grizzlies who could stop him, and he punished them, scoring 19 on only 9 shots. That’s gorgeous efficiency. He didn’t grab many rebounds again, but then he had 4 at the half and I saw two rebounds land directly in his hands after the half, and he didn’t get credit for any. Color me confused.
- The perimeter defense of the Grizzlies was awful. I can only remember one of Peja’s three point shots being contested. One. How do you leave Peja alone? Seriously? Of course the Rifleman made em pay. 5-7 shooting from three for 20 points.
- I said in the game preview that Rudy Gay had never impressed me as a defender – tonight I decided to watch him specifically. He always went under the pick, and bought every trick Peja tried. Peja would fake towards a pick, and Rudy would run underneath, allowing Peja to run away from the pick, catch, and shoot, while Rudy fought the long way around. After that worked twice, Peja ran off the pick – but Gay still ran under it, having not yet learned to stay with him, so Peja simply darted towards the hoop, past the off-balance Gay, crossed behind Chandler to the other corner, and got an open shot while Rudy had given up on the other side of the court. I never once saw him body anyone on the perimeter. I never once saw him stick Peja in transition despite his obvious athletic advantages. Honestly, I don’t think I saw him give a damn.
- Devin Brown is so much better when he’s got a playmaker on the floor with him. He’s only got two modes: A. Drive with head down B. Pass into the post or along the perimeter and stand there. When Paul was out there, his drive threat was dangerous, because it usually was step two in breaking down the defense, but when Paul wasn’t there it was easy to close on Brown and cut him off.
- As I mentioned above, the 2nd unit was terrible. Hilton was a foul machine while the game was still in doubt, and the Hornet’s offensive game was entirely “Pass around perimeter until bad shot is taken OR pass to Hilton Armstrong so a bad shot can be taken.” I wept blood. There were a couple good things to say about the second unit, but when they happened, everyone not named Marc Gasol on the Grizzlies had stopped caring, so they were probably just an illusion.
- Julian played ten minutes, and only made an aggressive move twice. Neither ended well. C’mon Julian, I know you have it with you.
Once again, the Hornets don’t play until freaking Wednesday, when they get to try and avenge themselves on the Charlotte Bobcats. Fortunately the schedule picks up from then on. The players are reportedly saying they want to play and are tired of practice. Knowing the sort of practices Byron likes, I’m not surprised.