The Hornets beat the Timberwolves

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Published: March 19, 2009

Can’t say I’m too impressed with the win tonight. The Hornets did overcome a 4-point deficit with 2:30 remaining which made for an exciting finish at the Arena, but with each passing game I’m left feeling less and less optimistic about how we’ll fare in the playoffs.

Coming off two miserable losses and with the lowly T-Wolves on the menu, I had high hopes for a dominant bounce back performance in this one, but I was left disappointed. David West looked tired and frustrated out there, Chris Paul had to play the entire second half yet again, we blew a big lead yet again, and we seemed equally inept at closing out on Minnesota’s shooters and keeping in front of them on the drive (when Brian Cardinal is beating guys off the dribble, you know it’s bad). The T-Wolves were the more aggressive team for most of the game, despite having played last night in San Antonio.

But let me take my head out of the oven and try focus on the positives in this one. It’s no fun talking about the many things the Hornets suck at. On to some happy bullets:

  • David West might have struggled for most of the game, but he came up big for us down the stretch, repeatedly getting to the free throw line and running the two-man game to perfection with CP to get the late dunk that proved to be the game-winner. It was also good to see West keep his composure despite his struggles. This was the type of game where you could easily have expected him to get a tech or commit an overly-hard foul, but he was able to keep his head down and stay focused.

  • Chris Paul finished with nice and shiny numbers as per usual. 26 points (10-of-21 FGs), 10 assists, 5 steals, 4 boards and 2 turnovers in 41 minutes. As a team we haven’t been much of a deep threat lately (hurry back Peja), tonight being no exception. As a result, the T-Wolves were able to pack the paint pretty good and keep CP out of there. He had to work hard for his numbers.
  • Special mention goes to that three-point play Chris dropped at the end of the third quarter, when he went the length of the court against Randy Foye. Foye resigned to foul him hard after CP unleashed a wicked crossover, grabbing him above the shoulders on the takedown. Somehow Chris got the shot up there anyway and it dropped. Reminiscent of that crazy reverse flip shot CP threw in against the Spurs in the playoffs last year. Not a similar shot, but just as insane.
  • Hilton Armstrong delivered one of his best games of the season. 12 points (6-of-8 FGs), 8 boards and 4 blocks. He made some nice moves without the ball, scored in a variety of ways and showed some great hustle playing D and rebounding. Most of his best moments came in the first half. He seemed to fade a little down the stretch and Kevin Love got the better of him a few times. The foul trouble may have limited his effectiveness. Not a bad fill-in though for the injured Tyson Chandler.
  • Also worthy of praise is Julian Wright. I was disappointed Byron again chose to play Posey ahead of JuJu in the fourth quarter. I thought Wright was great in the first half, especially on help defense and rotating to help box out Love. He and Armstrong seemed to be the only two guys we had with any pep in their step.
  • Mo Pete gave us positive contributions on both ends. He delivered 8 points in 15 minutes, and was also a big reason for Mike Miller’s 1-of-6 shooting performance. Good to have you back, Mo.
  • Lastly, great job by the fans tonight. There were plenty of times when the Hornets probably deserved to be booed, but instead of resorting to that everyone would get on their feet and rally the troops. That can only have helped the team keep the ship straight and land the victory. Take a bow, New Orleans. You’re pretty damn good at this pro basketball fandom thing.

That’ll do. Next up we’ve got the Grizzlies in town on Friday.

In rival action tonight, Portland cruised to an easy win at Indiana (dammit), the Nuggets rallied late and won in Memphis (dammit), and unfortunately the Pistons couldn’t pull off a double-OT win in dangerous and scary Houston (dammit).

Last thing: don’t miss the excellent new Tyson Chandler wallpaper by Dariusz, now available in the vault.

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