The Hornets beat the Raptors

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Published: February 7, 2009

And the bleeding stops.

The Hornets managed to win one without Chris Paul tonight, using a 17-0 fourth quarter run and a barrage of long bombs to beat the visiting Toronto Raptors. David West, James Posey and Rasual Butler all poured in 17 points apiece, but Peja was the number one gunner with 28 points on 7-11 shooting from deep. Way to step up, fellas.

A few bullets, if you don’t mind…

  • So on Monday we blew a big fourth quarter lead to the Trail Blazers, and there was me wondering why Byron had stuck with the Daniels-Butler-Peja-Posey-West unit for the final nine minutes of the ball game. Tonight we went with the same unit for the final seven minutes, except Devin Brown was running point instead of Daniels. And in those final seven minutes, we outscored the Raptors 26-9. So what was the difference? Methinks the biggest thing was that West got fed the ball inside, and then passed it out of there pretty good when the defense collapsed. Of those six treys that we sank in the final seven minutes, five of them were assisted by West. Also, we were able to rebound the ball down the stretch, grabbing 6 of the 9 boards available. You might recall that Portland out-rebounded us 17-4 in the fourth quarter on Monday. Of course, the Blazers are a far superior rebounding team to the Raptors.
  • Jermaine O’Neal gave us a handful on D. The Raptors looked to isolate him down there on West or Marks a lot, and he wound up scoring 24 points on 10-16 shooting. West often got frustrated and would clap his hands together, something he seems to be doing a lot of lately. Marks had some good minutes on O’Neal early in the fourth, blocking him twice in a row. But then JO scored seven straight points on zee Kiwi and Byron got him out of the game. Good move.

  • We died and lived by the three. The 4-of-15 shooting from downtown in the first half helped us blow that 14-point lead. But in the second half we dropped 11-of-17 from deep, which was a storm Toronto simply couldn’t weather. We may have been lucky that quite so many of those bombs found the bottom of the net, but then we were probably long overdue a little luck.
  • The Raptors fell back into a zone defense in the second quarter, which caused our guys to settle for jump shots and turn the ball over some. Toronto took advantage by running hard and getting some easy ones on the break. Then in the third it looked like more of the same when we gave up four points on our first defensive trip. We kept giving up offensive rebounds and the crowd was getting restless. Toronto was up double digits and on the verge of blowing the game wide open. And then out of the fire came Rasual Butler with a monster slam over two Raptors, right at the end of the shot clock. Antonio Daniels then came up with a stop and drove straight through the lane for a jam of his own. Suddenly the crowd was alive and we had ourselves a ball game. Our guys showed a lot of heart right there, not rolling over when they had plenty of excuses to do so.
  • Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and Morris Peterson were all dressed nice on the pine. Mo and TC sat at the end of the bench, like pretty much every other injured NBA player who goes along to the game. But not Chris Paul. He sat at the other end, next to the assistant coaches, and he was into the game for all 48 minutes. A few times I saw him up out of his seat shouting directions at his teammates on the floor, and early in the fourth he seemed to be doing most of the talking while huddled with Pressey, Parker and Gattison out on the court during a timeout. Just one more reason to love CP.
  • The crowd was rowdy tonight, especially in the second half. We wanted this one bad. 17,319 was the reported attendance.
  • JuJu got four minutes of burn at the start of the second quarter, and he was nothing short of woeful. All he gave us was three turnovers, each of them coming as he tried to beat his man off the dribble. His play seemed to be in direct contrast to what the rest of the team was trying to do on offense, which was to minimize dribbles and swing the ball around to the open man. I was so glad Byron pulled him when he did. Lately I’ve started wondering if Wright has the smarts to fulfill his potential.
  • The numbers don’t really tell it, but Devin Brown fared much better than Antonio Daniels tonight, especially against Toronto’s zone. When the Raps fell back into that in the fourth quarter, Devin pushed the ball up the floor and got them on their heels. He was also able to penetrate much better than Daniels, which really helps break up a zone defense. Overall I think Devin has been our best option at point guard since CP went down.
  • That’s not to say that Devin doesn’t mess up every now and then. He buried a three to put us up by 8 with a minute left, then hassled Jose Calderon into a missed layup. But after grabbing the rebound he threw an outlet off the back of David West’s head, and was lucky not to have it stolen back by Calderon for a quick bucket.
  • Posey broke out of his shooting slump, getting his 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He also had 5 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and the best +/- of everybody with +23. Oh, and he was nice defensively all night, drawing a couple of charges and turnovers that I can remember.
  • Ely and Armstrong both got a big fat DNP-CD. For Ely, that meant he missed seven less shots, grabbed one less rebound and scored the same amount of points as he did in 11 minutes of action against Chicago on Wednesday. I vote we stick with Marks and Bowen ahead of those two guys for a while.
  • 26 assists for the Hornets tonight, which would be a very nice total even if Chris Paul had been playing. Shooting 48 percent from the field will help of course, but our guys deserve credit for moving the ball around and not relying on isolations to get buckets. Job well done.

Next up: a rematch with the T-Wolves on Sunday. Chris Paul may or may not be back for that one, but hopefully our guys will come ready to play again regardless.

UPDATE: Extended highlights of Hornets-Raptors:

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