The Hornets beat the Sixers
As has been their calling card of late, the Hornets once again blew a double-digit lead to an inferior opponent but managed to hang on for the win, beating the Sixers 98-91 in Philly this evening.
I’m a lot happier with this one than I have been with the other close games we’ve had recently. Never easy being the road team on the second game of a back to back, especially against a fast and athletic bunch like the Sixers.
Chalk it up as five straight W’s for New Orleans, our longest such streak of the season.
- David West kept us afloat in an otherwise miserable first half, where the Hornets watched an early 13-point lead evaporate in a hurry. West was nothing short of unstoppable in the first quarter and had 22 points at the break. He mixed it up and got his scores in a variety of ways: drives, post-ups, jumpers, fade-aways. He cooled off considerably in the second, thanks to a more focused Philly defense. West would finish with 30 points (12-of-26 FGs), 10 boards and 5 assists. He’s averaging 30, 10.8 and 3 in his past four games. And in case you hadn’t heard, earlier today he was named the Western Conference Player of the Week.
- Our bench really hurt us in this one. Antonio Daniels and Julian Wright played just a handful of minutes at the start of the second quarter. Byron was forced to get his big guns back in there after a 7-point lead was whittled down to one. Daniels couldn’t handle the extended defensive pressure the Sixers threw out there, being forced once to call a timeout in the backcourt and then getting away with a charge on Lou Williams in the same half of the floor. One referee called that a charge and Daniels barked at him to earn a tech, not realizing that another referee had overruled and called it as a blocking foul on Williams.
- I decided to mute the TV and listen to Sean Kelly and Gerry V call the game on the radio. There was a five-second delay between picture and sound, but that didn’t bother me too much. Those guys actually analyze the game and make jokes that are funny. Very refreshing.
- I have to disagree with Kelly and V on Posey’s performance, though. His numbers do look nice (16 points, 3-of-6 from deep, 12 rebounds), but he killed us numerous times defensively. In the first half I saw him lose Andre Iguodala repeatedly off the ball, and it seemed like every guy he tried to guard was able to leave him in the dust with simple shot fakes or a quick first step. It’s weird with Posey because one minute you see him crashing the offensive glass hard or hustling back on defense to try draw a charge, and the next minute you see him completely out of position on D or chucking up an ill-advised three. I’m still counting on him stepping up big come playoff time.
- Peja Stojakovic left the game midway through the third quarter and did not return. Apparently he went to the locker room and got some help stretching. Hopefully that’s not his back acting up again. I thought he did a nice job on Iguodala defensively tonight, and he was able to knock down 2-of-3 from deep.
- With Peja sidelined, Rasual got to play the entire fourth quarter, something Byron hasn’t let him do in a long time. The Philly native came up big for us, knocking down a pair of huge triples down the stretch and getting a key offensive board in the final minute. He finished with 16 points (5-11 FGs) and 10 boards in 42 minutes.
- Chris Paul’s shooting woes continued. Tonight he was 6-of-16 from the field, bringing his field goal percentage for the past four games to 34.9 percent. It’s actually reassuring though that we can win these ballgames without CP lighting it up. Unfortunately, with the bench sucking, we are needing him to play big minutes (he’s averaging 41mpg over the past seven). He came up with 12 assists and 3 steals tonight, but also coughed it up 5 times. I’m hoping he’ll snap out of this slump against the Mavericks on Thursday. Remember the last time he played Jason Kidd?
- Nice job on the boards tonight. The Sixers held a 22-19 rebounding advantage in the first half, with Reggie Evans and co. repeatedly punishing us on the offensive glass. We managed to turn that around though and finish with 50-39 edge. And while I don’t have the numbers to back it up, it seemed like we did a better job limiting the Philly fast break as the game wore on.
- Andre Miller is a tough customer. I love that guy, even when he’s not providing chicken for the masses. I’m amazed at how much the Sixers play him off the ball considering he’s a point guard. He’s also a handful down in the post, as Antonio Daniels can no doubt attest to after this one. Miller finished with 28 points on 12-of-16 FGs (!), adding 7 dimes and 6 boards.
- Some numbers: We shot the ball well from the free throw line (18-of-22), and extremely well from deep (10-of-16). Aside from CP’s 5 turnovers we only had 7 in the game, while Philly had just 10 altogether.
- As commentcava noted in the Game On comments, the Hornets got into the penalty with 7:20 left in the fourth quarter, but did a poor job of capitalizing on that. In fact, we didn’t shoot another free throw until Posey sank two with 21 ticks left in the ball game.
- Five consecutive wins, five consecutive DNP-CD‘s for Hilton Armstrong. During the game, Gerry V talked about how disappointed he was that Hilton didn’t take advantage of Tyson being out. He had a golden opportunity to become a fixed part of the rotation right there, but he failed miserably.
Since we’ve won five straight, it’s safe to look at the standings again. There’s the Hornets looking all snug in fifth place in the West. We’re now three games clear of ninth-place Phoenix, 2.5 games behind second-place San Antonio, although the Spurs are playing the Clippers in L.A. tonight. Crazy that only four games separate seeds two through eight right now.
Next up, we’ve got the Hornets back home for that battle with the Mavs on Thursday. TNT. Should be fun.
UPDATE: From the Times-Picayune:
Stojakovic left the game near the end of the third quarter after suffering back spasms. He said that he had experienced tightness in his back when he awoke Monday morning. He spent the entire fourth quarter in the locker room stretching. When he put on his socks after the game, he grimaced in pain. Stojakovic had season-ending back surgery in 2006.