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The Hornets Beat the Spurs

Published: March 30, 2009

Simply put, Chris Paul came out at half time and proved he was the best player on the floor.  I could fill up an entire observations section just with all the incredible plays he pulled out in that game.  It’s such a joy to watch him play.

As what usually happens in good wins with the Hornets, West carried the team in the first half, scoring 14 and serving as the focal point for the offense.  In the second, Paul shifted from fourth gear to Warp 9 and carried the team to victory.


  • While Paul drawing the three foul shots ten feet from the three-point line made me laugh like an idiot,(for the second time this year) my favorite play was West’s seventeen footer to put the Hornets up five with just short of a minute to go.  Despite West having gone 11-12 since the middle of the third, the Hornets cleared the side for the West-Paul two man game, and Paul showed just how nasty he can be.  As West floated from the elbow closer to the baseline, Paul pushed the ball towards the basket, turned, and drove his shoulder repeatedly into Matt Bonner’s stomach while protecting the ball from Parker, who was trying to strip him.  As a result, Bonner was almost all the way out to the free throw line when Paul turned and shoveled a low pass at West’s ankles.  West reached way down and almost flubbed the catch before being able to get into position to shoot.  If Paul had not pushed Bonner out so far, that shot was contested and was unlikely to find the net.  Instead, West only had the six-foot Tony Parker trying to contest him, and he drilled it calmly with his deadly one-legged set shot.  Great play.  Simply great.
  • Three times the ball was loose off a rebound and Paul came out of the scrum at full tilt with the ball.  But none of those were his biggest rebound.  That was when the ball came cleanly off to Tim Duncan on a missed Hornet’s shot, Paul leapt high into the air and knocked the ball out of Tim’s hands as he held the ball straight above his head.  Paul landed, took two steps and skied for the ball as it came down.  A few seconds later, the above play happened.
  • No matter how good a game it was, I have to point out that the Spurs are not about to go 7-29 again in the future.  They missed about ten wide open shots from three that they’d normally knock down.  Julian Wright about gave me a conniption on five seperate occasions as he left Matt Bonner or Ginobili open as he doubled off his man or showed too long helping on a screen.  I will give the Hornets credit for one thing – they knew their personnel, and if Ime Udoka and his 33% long-range shooting wanted to take a three, they let him.  He went 0-5.

  • Butler had a very bad game offensively tonight, going 1-8 and 0-5 from deep, frequently rushing his threes as the Spurs closed on him.  However, he made up for it by simply crushing Roger Mason, the Spurs’ nasty deep threat.  Mason couldn’t get free to save his life, and ended up 0-4 for the game with only one of those shots not being contested.
  • Hilton Armstrong and Sean Marks ended with 11 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks, a lot of great energy and some pretty nice defense on Tim Duncan.  Marks and Armstrong did great showing on Tony Parker and limiting his drives to the hoop.  Parker only managed a single layup in the half-court, getting all the rest of his shots at the rim in early offense and the open floor.  It was a nice effort from the Hornets back up big men.  Ely played too, and contributed a blown layup and a foul.  Okay, maybe I shouldn’t mention that in a bullet about the nice job the Hornet’s bigs did.
  • The game comments were buzzing about the Hornets pushing the issue by running.  The Hornets did get 11 fast break points, but I do have to point out that most of the fast-breaks that actually resulted in points were Paul getting the rebound and going coast to coast mostly alone.  And a lot of those rebounds came off of long missed three-point shots by the Spurs.

That bullet, of course, brings up how great Paul was again.  Let me break out of the observations for a moment to count the ways:

  1. Drilling all three free throws to close out the game after drawing that silly foul.(And allowing us to see Popovich shake his head in disbelief and say “F*** that call.”)
  2. With the Hornets up only 3, knocking the ball away from Parker – OFF Parker out of bounds – as Tony was on one of his usually unstoppable fast breaks.
  3. Coldly drilling a 20 foot jumper late in the fourth as the Hornets attempts to post West and run Butler off a curl were thwarted.
  4. Drawing another three-point foul from Parker earlier in the fourth – and sticking all his free-throws.
  5. Finding Julian on that Baseline cut after fighting around three players showing hard on screens to force him to the perimeter.  Nasty alley-oop.
  6. Tracing a perfect letter ‘S’ through the paint as he wove between four defenders, sent them all scurrying to cover shooters, and then scored on an easy layup.
  7. Ripping the ball free on a defensive rebound and breaking into a foot race that he won against Tony Parker for a layup as Parker tried desperately to reach in.
  8. For working Referee Eddie Rush like a speed bag.
  9. For trusting David West to drill that 17-foot jumper in crunch time.
  10. For giving Posey an ‘air-hug’ before the game.
  11. Setting a Pick in the third against Kurt Thomas to get West free for a dunk.  Paul was sent flying.

And let’s close out the Bullets:

  • Antonio Daniels was aggressive from the moment he stepped on the court, taking open jumpers when they were there, and generally attacking.  He played well enough that Byron inserted him again at the end of the third and the beginning of fourth to help carry the ball safely into the attack zone and keep some pressure off Paul.
  • David West had 23 points on 6-18 shooting.  In the second half the Spurs were coming at him hard as he caught the ball.  Popovich said he’d make West turn into a driver or passer, and they managed it.  Despite his offensive woes, however, he worked hard sealing his man on the glass and pulled down 16 rebounds while making Kurt Thomas and Drew Gooden miserable.
  • Last, I have to say something about Julian, lest I leave you only with that one negative comment about him leaving open perimeter shooters.  Wright ended with 9 points on 9 shots, two rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers and a foul.  He had some bad defensive lapses, and made about five mistakes offensively in the first half.  Despite that, his ability to defend players driving the lane and bother posting players, despite his thin frame, was a sight to behold.  He’s just freakishly long and has incredible anticipation.  Enough so that if he ever cuts back on his unnecessary risks he is likely to become an All-NBA defender.

That was a big game, and it went into the “Do Not Delete” section of my TIVO, so when I am without a game to watch in the off-season, I can fire that one up.  Winning without Peja, Tyson and Posey was pretty big – now I just hope we can keep up the intensity in Sacramento.

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