The Hornets beat the Kings
We probably don’t win this game without Tyson Chandler.
In his first game back from injury, and only a few days removed from that whole rescinded trade debacle, Chandler came up huge for the Hornets against the Kings. It took him less than three minutes to hook up with Chris Paul for a Crescent City Connection, and him picking and rolling with CP made all the difference down the stretch.
It wasn’t a flawless performance by Tyson by any means — check his five turnovers and a botched alley oop in the first quarter — but he gave us much more than could be reasonably be expected of a guy who hadn’t played in over a month. His final numbers: 15 points (5-of-6 FGs) and 10 boards in 32 minutes of action.
Let’s rip through some bullets:
- The Hornets looked like they would cruise to an easy win in this one. We led 61-47 at halftime, but then seemed to get a little sloppy and unfocused in the third. The defensive rotations weren’t quite as snappy, and the Kings really started hustling after rebounds and loose balls. We were able to answer a couple of their runs in that period, but then Kevin Martin went off in the fourth to make it a tight game down the stretch.
- Martin finished with 32 points, 24 of them coming in the fourth. I’m pretty sure we were defending him much the same way all game, but he didn’t seem all that interested until the final frame. I started to question why we had Peja guarding him for most of the quarter but decided it wasn’t a bad move. Peja’s length allowed him to contest a lot of Martin’s jumpers, and the help D behind him was actually fairly good. K-Mart was just in a zone, knocking down those contested jumpers and finishing well in traffic.
- Chris Paul oozed fantasticness tonight. He had a dozen or so amazing plays that I could write about, but I’ll mention just two from the first half. He had a beauty of a no-look feed to West on the fast break in the first quarter, where he had everybody believing the ball was going to Peja on the wing. He just floated that pass over the Kings transition D to give West the easiest of layups. Then there was that ridiculous crossover he unleashed on Udrih in the second quarter, immediately followed by a high-off-the-glass finish over an outstretched Spencer Hawes. It never ceases to amaze me how well Paul finishes in the lane when he’s so often forced to alter the arc of his shot and the timing of his release. Moving in fast forward, seeing in slow motion.
CP’s final numbers tonight: 27 points (11-of-19 FGs), 13 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers.
- When I said that we ran the pick and roll with Paul and Chandler down the stretch, I mean we ran it on every possession for about six minutes. Udrih and Hawes were helpless to defend it.
- Besides 13 points from Posey and 7 boards from Marks, we didn’t get a lot from the bench tonight. The usual reserves didn’t get much burn in the fourth because Byron had to get the starters back out there to counter the K-Mart barrage. Posey did most of his damage from deep, sinking 4-of-7 triples. I honestly thought every one of those four makes was going to be blocked because he had a defender in his face each time. It’s remarkable how he can get that shot off.
- A few more things we missed when Tyson was out were his bone-crushing picks, and his ability to run the break. I mentioned that botched alley oop in the first quarter (where the ball slipped through Tyson’s hands), but that play was only a possibility because TC sprinted the floor and beat every King to the lane.
- I’ll take Nocioni on my team any day.
- Not a great night shooting for David West but he was battling hard down low. He finished with 24 points, 9 boards and 4 blocks. I’ve commented many times about his poor help defense, but after reading Ryan’s recap of the Jazz game, I’m wondering if that can be attributed to his slow footspeed more so than a lack of effort. I’m sure it’s a combination of both, but what are the proportions?
- Rasual Butler played so well in the first quarter I was thinking about deeming him Danny Granger lite in this recap. He was scoring inside and out; crashing the offensive boards, probing the defense, and just being a very effective offensive threat. But then he kinda disappeared for the rest of the game. Looked like he might have hurt himself in the fourth and he didn’t play the final ten minutes. Not sure what the story is there.
- Numbers: 46-35 rebounding advantage for the Hornets, 23-of-32 FTs, 13 points on the break, 38 in the paint. The Kings scored 40 in the paint. I’m surprised and disappointed by that. Thought we’d fare better with Tyson back.
Overall, it wasn’t an inspiring victory by the Hornets. We were playing the worst team in the NBA, who made a lot of noise before the trade deadline and thus had a bunch of players unfamiliar with each other. We got off to a good start but let them get back in it and make it a tougher fourth quarter than it had to be. On the flip side, we showed some resolve and poise in staving off the comeback. Our guys never looked all that flustered, and we were able to flex our muscle and take advantage of some questionable officiating.
Next up, our guys are back in New Orleans to host the Pistons on Wednesday. I may or may not have recovered from Mardi Gras by then. It’s been a crazy few days, I tell ya.