The Hornets Beat the Clippers

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Published: April 2, 2009

Not a particularly exciting game tonight as the Hornets took on the Clippers in Los Angeles.  Even when the Clippers came back and kept the game tight in the fourth quarter, I wasn’t really worried.  Quite simply, when a game is on the line against the Clippers, Zach Randolph is going to do something stupid that makes it tough for your team to lose.  Tonight, the career 29% shooter from deep took two threes in the final minute, and managed to hit one.  The other, of course, missed and buried the Clipper’s chances with it.

Oh, and while the Hornets were handling the Clippers, Houston was beaten by Phoenix, leaving the Hornets a half game behind the Rockets.  Crazy playoff race.

Observations, which I will keep short since it’s now 1:30 am here:

  • David West played 43 minutes on a gimpy ankle that made it nearly impossible for him to drive.  The Clippers, as brilliant as the Kings at defense, decided they should bite on his headfakes as much as possible, and only crowd him once or twice on the perimeter.  The result was 19 points for the big man.  Yes, he didn’t shoot that well, but seriously.  They could have made him completely ineffectual by simply playing up on him.  What a lame defensive scheme.  As for West playing on that injured ankle, I’m not really convinced it was a great idea, but it actually didn’t hurt that bad on defense, and the immobility it forced on West actually made him set some really nice picks for Paul – picks that are usually a little less solid because he’s so quick to move to his shooting spot.  At least the Hornets get an entire day off before playing the Warriors.  Maybe it’ll heal some.  Let’s just hope that Don Nelson doesn’t get a crazy idea and try and trip West like Mike Dunleavy did accidentally tonight.  Maybe he’ll tell Stephen Jackson to “sweep the leg.”
  • You could tell from the start of the game that Paul recognized he’d have to be aggressive to pull out a win in this one.  Typically against lesser teams, he floats the first half and gets going after half-time.  Tonight, he opened up determined to get in the paint, and it resulted in 30 points on 19 shots, 14 assists, 6 steals, 4 rebounds, and 4 turnovers as sometimes he forced the issue more than he normally does.  He also had multiple key plays to stave off the Clippers run, and not once did he settle for a deep shot – almost always getting into the paint.
  • The other guy who picked up their game to help carry the scoring load was Julian Wright.  With Armstrong unable to handle the massive weight of Kaman and Randolph inside, he crashed the boards hard, grabbing nine, including four on the offensive end.  His midrange jumper as in full effect as he drilled 8-13 shots for 18 points, though the highlight of his night was one of his vicious alley-oop finishes after running the baseline.  He simply crushed it.  He also picked up two steals and three assists, including one beautiful touch pass to Paul on the fast break.  I can’t remember him being out of control offensively at all in the game, though he did still get caught three or four times floating out of position defensively.  No matter – he was a big plus.

  • Antonio Daniels got some extra burn, playing alongside Chris Paul for three minutes in the second, and started the fourth next to Paul before going out in favor of Julian after three minutes.  In his first stint, he ran the offense very well, finding open players with regularity.  In his second, he was nearly invisible – but that may have been because Paul was on the warpath.
  • Bad game for the Hornet’s center brigade.  Marks and Hilton were foul machines and couldn’t box out and grab rebounds to save their lives against the beefy(to be nice) Randolph and Kaman.  Hilton also looked like he had buttered his hands, turning the ball over twice, and three times flubbing the catch on easy passes.  Altogheter, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 8 fouls and 11 points isn’t enough from the center position in 44 minutes.
  • Baron Davis was playing intelligently out there tonight, taking what we gave him, and going to the rim when the opportunity presented.  I remember loving it when he played that way for the Hornets.
  • Eric Gordon has a nice shooting stroke.  I’m not sure how much better he’ll be than Ben Gordon in the end, but he’ll be a nice shooting guard for some time.

With this win, the Hornets would have to lose every single game from here on out to not make the playoffs.  That’s fairly comforting.  Have a good night.

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