Hornets leave it all on the floor, and beat the Sixers
So, it’s energy and effort that Byron Scott wants, huh. Well, Ryan Bowen has got your energy and effort right here!!
Sorry, I had to start with that. What a game? It was non-stop excitement from the opening tip. The Sixers are a pretty aggressive team on the defensive end. They force quite a few turnovers, and like to push the ball. The Hornets fell victim to that style in the first half, but managed to stay within striking distance. In the 2nd half though, the Hornets buckled down a little more on the turnovers, rebounded pretty effectively, actually played some interior defense, oh and there’s this guy named Peja Stojakovic, whom I’ll get to later. In the end, the Hornets gutted out another short-handed victory in a game where they had no business winning. The Bugs are now 3-1 in the four games without David West and Tyson Chandler. That is what I like to call “holding your ground”. Before we get to the bullets, let me give props to the 16,131 in attendance tonight. It was a tense crowd at tip-off, but when the Hornets went on that 10-0 run to start the 3rd quarter, it was pandamonium. You could tell those guys fed off that energy. Nice work, fans. let’s hit the bullets.
- Chris Paul is good at basketball. How good you ask? How about 3 steals short of a quadruple-double…. again! The kid is just flat out amazing. He was also the Hornets leading rebounder. I thought the Sixers played effective defense in the 1st half, keeping Chris out of the lane. In the 2nd half, he just owned them, and those two 3-point plays in the 3rd quarter were things of beauty. I think I caught a glimpse if Niall wiping away a tear.
- It looked as if Sammy Dalembert knocked CP in his gonads in the 3rd quarter. Somewhere Julius Hodge is smiling and eating a cookie.
- How nice was it to see JuJu get his first starter man-hug from Posey tonight? He only had two points, but I thought he made his presence felt fighting for those rebounds. He was a bit of a mixed bag defensively, but it was nice to see him get some burn.
- Anyone know what happened to Elton Brand tonight? Wow, not a very productive 18 minutes. What was with him shooting those fade-away jumpers. I guess he was afraid that Sean Marks would put the Kiwi Gris Gris on him….. that’s right, Kiwi Gris Gris. You heard it here first.
- Speaking of the Kiwi, he had himself a serviceable game. 5 boards (3 offensive) and 4 points in 16 minutes of backup action. He was really working out there for those rebounds. It really seemed to be his focus tonight. His biggest contribution came in what he didn’t do, and that’s clang 18-footers. He didn’t take unnecessary shots. All of his makes and misses were right at the basket, and he’s 6’10”, so that makes sense. Nice effort.
- Niall had glowing reviews on the Honeybees costumes at the start of the game. When asked about the Used-to-Bees costumes, he was strangely silent.
- In Ryan’s pregame post I mentioned three keys to the game. One was take care of the ball; 18 TO for the Hornets VS 22 TO for the Sixers (win). Second was don’t get killed on the boards. At the half the Hornets were -5 in rebounding differential, by the end of the game the Hornets were, I’ll be darned, -5, even in the 2nd half (win). Lastly, win at the stripe. Before the end-of-game foul fest, the Sixers had attempted 20 FT, and made 12. The Hornets also made 12… out of 13 (win).
- Before I get to Peja dropping bombs… what else can you say about the aforementioned Ryan Bowen? I’ve said this before, but the guy is 48 minutes of basketball condensed into 7 minutes of actual playing time. Let me break it down for you all. First, he gets a HUGE offensive rebound at the end of the 3rd, leading to a Posey 3. In the 4th, Bowen gets the ball on the low block, two dribbles and a kickout to Peja on the wing… bucket. Next Sixers posession, Bowen plays awesome help defense causing a hasty pass and an off-balance shot. He then boxes-out his man, gets the rebound, tips it to CP, and Chris is off to the races…. Peja from the wing again, GOOD! Two posessions later, this time Bowen gets a long pass, does a shot-fake, drives the baseline and finds Peja on the wing… bucket. Add in another assist and two nice, hard fouls on Reggie Evans, and that is how you maximize your minutes. When he came out of the game, you could see he was completely spent. I loved every second of his tireless effort on the court. Note to Coach Scott, I want more of that.
- I know Chris Paul is Chris Paul… but it’s been Peja that has really stepped up in David West’s absence. He is seriously picking up the slack, averaging over 22 ppg in just over 39 mpg. Tonight he was stroking it in the 4th quarter. While Ryan Bowen was doing his best Chris Paul impersonation, it was Peja ripping the nets on the other end. At one point he hit five 3-pointers in a row. When he hit that 5th three…. the crowd went crazy. It was really something to witness.
- Philly led 47-40 at the half, with 36 of their points coming in the paint. In the end the Sixers finished with 56 points in the paint, but it wasn’t enough. When Philly was in the half-court, they settled for way too many jump shots, and missed a lot of them. Did they watch the film from the Minnesota game? Just a thought.
But hey… The Hornets notch another precious W. You have to get as many of them as you can from November to April, especially in the West. Kudos to the role-players for playing some big-boy minutes and being productive. Also Kudos to Chris Paul for being a one-man army. It doesn’t get any easier with the Nuggets coming into town on Wednesday. Here’s to hoping Hilton can channel some of what he had in that last game in Denver.
UPDATE: Game highlights: