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The Hornets Beat the Nets

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Published: March 2, 2009

Another hard fought game, another down the wire finish, and another night when Tyson looked like his old self, West ate the opposing big men alive, and Paul did his best orchestrating it all and pulling a near triple double.  Oh yeah – as usual – the bench left the starters a big steaming turd on the court.  Yay.

Observations:

  • I have to start with David West tonight.  He opened the game with 5 misses and four free throws as Yi Jianlin did an excellent job harassing his drive and contesting his layups.  I was pretty impressed with Yi, and at one point, West started doing his old “Palm, jab, jab, pump, jab, jab, fade-away flat-footed 20-footer, clank” routine that he’d gone away from recently.  Then, halfway through the second quarter, he started getting the ball at the elbow instead of the wing, and he turned into an animal.  When Yi got his second stint, he went to the bench in moments with 2 more fouls.  West finished the game going 10-15 with 9-9 from the free throw line.  He also got no less than 4 offensive boards in the fourth.  Over the course of the game, he also had three nice assists and only a pair of turnovers.  Great game.
  • Speaking of West, Byron drew up this great new play in the fourth.  The team feeds West at the elbow, who dribbles and forces  the defense to collapse.  West then whips the ball to Paul who swings it to Peja.  Peja then clangs a wide-open, uncontested three off the front of the rim, while David West battles for position so he can rip it down and put it in for two.  The Hornets ran it three times in four posessions in the fourth, and if not for Tyson screwing things up by grabbing the offensive rebound and throwing it to Butler before West could get to it the third time, it worked perfectly.

  • Peja played the first half beautifully.  I loved what he was doing offensively and defensively, and he stuck his shots with style.  He was coming off screens, and the Nets were constantly keeping at least one guy on him, opening up the floor for everyone else.  At halftime, however, Peja was replaced by an Imperial Stormtrooper and suddenly couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.  The Nets packed it in, and let him shoot, and he just couldn’t convert. The bullet above?  Without West, those misses would have been crushing, especially with Posey and Paul getting into the act and also missing open three-point shots.  Of course, then the Phoenix caught fire, and Butler dropped a huge one from the corner to make it a one point game.
  • What can I say about Rasual.  6-11 FG, 3-6 3PT, 7-8FT, 4 rebounds, a gorgeous block, and 22 desperately needed points.  On 11 shots.  Wonderful.  I’m also not about to limit my praise to his ability to pull up and hit midrange shots either.  When he was assigned strictly to Vince Carter, the Net star had his toughest moments of the game.  Vince went only 3-9 with two free throws with Butler guarding him.  Against the rest of the Hornets, he sank 6-8 and had another three free throws.  In the fourth, the Phoenix was switched onto Devin Harris, and unlike Carter, Harris and his speed is not in Butler’s wheelhouse defensively.  I still need to write something about Butler.
  • At first I was somewhat irritated by the switch until I heard Mike Fratello and Marv Albert talking about how Paul was having problems – and then I saw that the Hornets were trying to hide Paul defensively on the weakside, keeping him off Devin for most of the fourth until the final four-five posessions.  It cost them a bit, because Paul being the guy responsible for closing out on a shooter on the wing is not ideal.  He’s just a bit too short.  Earlier in the game, while he was on the sideline, Paul was getting special attention stretching – and it looked to me like it was intended to stretch the groin.  Not good.  Of course, despite that, Paul had eight rebounds, nine assists, four steals and 14 points, which is all beautiful except his bad 6-18 shooting.  Oh, and he had a vital and sneaky defensive steal, and a nice pull up shot to put the Hornets up for good.
  • The bench was awful.  50 minutes total time between Marks, Daniels, Brown and Posey.  5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 5 fouls, 13 points, 4-14 shooting.  No rest for the gimpy Paul(42 minutes) or West(43 minutes) or Chandler.(38 minutes)  Posey also had one of his special “I’m going to foul you as you shoot just because I’m so freaking cool it offends me you would shoot in my general vacinity” fouls.
  • Tyson had a nice 12 rebound, 7 point effort.  He would have had an even better game if the team didn’t start using him as a scoring option late in the third.  That was ugly.  Tyson can’t post.  He just can’t.  Stop trying.
  • The Hornets could cut their defensive efficiency by nearly one point if they could stop giving up one defensive 3-second violation EVERY GAME.
  • I wish we could get back to having Ryan Bowen play 6 minutes a game.  Just six, Byron.  Three in each half to get West that extra rest. That’s all I’m asking.
  • Lawrence Frank had Sean Williams in for Yi down the stretch, and I have to thank him.  Williams made more mistakes on the defensive end of the floor than Hilton Armstrong makes in a game.  And he made even more mistakes on the offensive end.

We play again tomorrow night against the 76ers.  Let’s hope the guys can stretch the winning streak to 5.

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