The Rockets Beat the Hornets

It was a tale of two halves tonight.  In the first half, Houston’s physical defense worked against them and the Hornets went to the line 14 times.   In the second, the defense began to tighten and the Hornets went to the line 5 times.  The Hornets were unable to handle the increased pressure and lost.

  • I know this isn’t a popular idea, and I can already hear the outraged grumbling that these are athletes who shouldn’t be tired, but once again Paul and Butler played 44 minutes.  West played 42.  Chandler played 38.  These sorts of minutes have been going on for half a dozen games now.  Chandler is on a gimpy ankle. West has to bounce on a ball when he’s on the bench to keep his back from tightening up. Butler is required to run off curls all the time and take the other teams toughest offensive player, and Paul has the ball in his hands most of the game and is always receiving contact.  That’s just too many minutes, and it showed as the jumpers in the fourth fell mostly short, which is a sign of tired legs.  They aren’t going to be able to keep this up for another month without breaking down.
  • Julian Wright missed four dunks tonight, but I don’t give a damn.  He was cutting hard to the basket and putting pressure on the defense.  It’s nice to have a wing player willing to be aggressive going to the basket.  His control will come with a little more experience.  You will notice the one time he tried to drive on Artest directly, Artest gave him a little body bump, and stripped him like I said he would in the Preview.  Yay.  Maybe I should start predicting good things like the Hornets winning.
  • 3-11 from deep.  This remains important.  The team is constructed around penetration and three point shooting – and when the three point shooting isn’t there, the penetration becomes infinitely harder.  Scott may have to play Peterson just to get another person on the perimeter to hit shots.  I don’t see why he can’t take more of Butler’s load anyways.  Let Butler get another 8-10 minutes of rest, Byron.

  • You saw Ron Artest in his glory and at his worst tonight.  Artest tried to be a guard in the first half, jacking up terrible shots off the dribble and hitting nothing.  In the second, he took the ball inside, used his strength and drilled more than half his shots.
  • This is the first time I can remember Scola getting the best of West – and get the best of him he did.  Usually West gets irritated by Scola and punishes him.  Tonight, he got irritated, kept missing, then got frustrated and fell apart.  We’ve all seen him do that before, it was unfortunate it happened tonight.
  • Paul still got into the paint against the tightened defense, but his shots were much tougher to get off in there. 29 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, 6 steals, and a pair of turnovers.
  • I went back and watched Tyson in the third, and you could tell that ankle was really bothering him.  He grimaced about six times when pushing off of it to go up for a rebound, and he started to lose his positioning for rebounds more often as the game wore on.  This is pretty alarming.

That’s enough, this isn’t really a game I want to dwell on.  We get the Timberwolves in town on Wednesday.  Have a good night.

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