The Hornets beat the Raptors

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Published: December 14, 2008

The game was fairly low energy, which isn’t too surprising for a game that kicked off at 12:30 pm local time.  Many NBA players are just getting up around then. 

During the game, Toronto made a concerted effort to collapse on drives into the paint, which, of course, left the perimeter open, and the Hornets being the Hornets, they let fly with impunity, putting up 33 three point shots, hitting 12.  That, plus David West’s workhorse effort in the middle, was enough.

Observations:

  • There’s been a lot of complaints about Peja not getting the ball enough, particularly after the Celtics game.  I’ve gone back and watched that game, and watched tonight to see what the Hornets were doing, and in both games(14 against the Celts, 15 against Toronto) the Hornets ran plays where he was a primary or secondary option to catch the ball.  Most of the plays were single or double curls where one or both wing players get picks from the big men under the basket, then run to the elbow, catch and shoot.  The problem is Peja is rarely getting seperation on his curls.  Some of that is his foot speed, but some of it is us missing Tyson Chandler.  One of the most underrated parts of Tyson’s game is his ability to set bone-shivering screens.  It makes him effective on the pick and roll – and helps when our shooters flare to the corner or run off those curls.  Hilton isn’t as big as Tyson, and isn’t anywhere near as good at it.  Marks and Ely will set an effective screen the day Byron Scott grows hair.

  • One thing we do get away from too much are the Peja post-ups.  He is usually effective on those and tonight went 2-3 and had a pass that led to another pass for an open three.
  • Paul finally ripped the ball free from Jermaine O’Neal with 6 minutes to go in the fourth, keeping alive his streak of 103 straight games with a steal.  You could see it was actually weighing on his mind a little in the fourth and end of the third – he was pressing Calderon pretty hard and started roaming more than usual.
  • Antonio Daniels got his first minutes and played very well.  One missed shot and one example of overpassing that led to a turnover, but otherwise he was finding the open wings for open shots, producing 5 assists.  His defense was also pretty good.  I’m a happy, happy man.
  • In fact, the Hornest 2nd unit held its own tonight, outscoring the Raptors when they had their 2nd unit in, even though the Raptors were playing two starters throughout that rotation.  It wasn’t until Bosh and Calderon returned that they slipped and gave up a run halfway through the second.  I am very happy with that. (Though Ely sucked with a capital SUCK)
  • Jose Calderon was perfect for the game, going 5-5 from deep, 1-1 from the line, and 8-8 over all.  8 shots for 22 points?  That’s nightmare efficiency.  He would have also had a lot more than 7 assists if 3-point champ Kapono and Anthony Parker, typically great shooters, were able to hit more than 2-12 from deep.  Some of that was poor shooting, but the Hornets did contest at the perimeter very well.
  • West took three easy jumpers early and missed them, and then must have decided he was just going to punish Jermaine O’Neal and anyone else they sent at him inside.  And so he did, going 10-13 the rest of the way and earning nine free throws.  29 points on 16 shots is excellent.
  • Bosh was also effective scoring, but unlike West he relied on drawing fouls as his jumper wasn’t falling and he couldn’t finish inside.  You’d think that was bad, but 25 points on 17 shots is also very nice.
  • Butler was having a tough shooting game until the fourth, when he drained three threes and a let loose with a nice pump fake-one dribble-shot that tickled the twine.  I’d say Butler has been reborn, but he’s never, ever played like this in his career.  I mean, not even close.
  • The man Rasual has replaced, Morris Peterson, didn’t get to play in his return to his former home city, as Byron opted to give the 2nd unit shooting guard minutes to Devin Brown, who was effective in the half, and poor in the second half.  I have a post planned about this – I think Peterson is probably the player “most likely to be moved” now that James is gone.  I’ll talk more about that later.  Probably tomorrow.
  • Oh yeah, James posey hit 6 threes, had 20 points, 10 rebounds, drew a beautiful charge in the fourth, and delivered some tough defense.  Very, very nice.

We play again Tuesday.  Here’s to hoping that the watch party was nice.  I had some Barbecue Potato Chips and a Dr. Pepper as I watched the game.  Parrrr-tay.

[UPDATE] For a recap and some observations from the other side, check out the excellent HoopsAddict, and see which Raptors player left their locker room carrying a Chris Paul Jersey.

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