The Suns beat the Hornets

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Published: April 9, 2009

As the season winds to a close, there’s been a lot of anxious energy flowing around due to the tight race in the Western Conference.  Tonight, however, I’m not really feeling it – and though I can’t pretend I’m the Hornets or their staff, I’m not sure they were feeling it either.

Anyways, the Hornets had their standard collapse at the beginning of the second quarter, and couldn’t figure out how to handle Shaq in the third.  They tried to make a game of it in the fourth, fighting back repeatedly to within three, but not quite being able to close the deal.

Observations
  • For the first time in recent memory, Nash successfully baited Chris Paul into playing his style of game.  Nash provided almost no resistance in the first quarter, and Paul was scoring at will, especially if he went early.  In the second half, help defense came quicker against Paul – but Paul kept pressing the issue, and he didn’t get back to controlling the games pace until the fourth.  Very unusual, and on the second night of a back to back, it may have hurt a little.  No steals and five fouls for CP3, though his aggression did do some amazing things on the boards. 
  • Julian was terrible.  He entered the game, and his cover, Matt Barnes, immediately got two wide open threes as Julian jumped into the paint to help on Nash’s penetration.  His offense, when it’s not in the open floor, was pathetic.  Two of his shots he just threw up in the general direction of the basket, and they ricocheted hard off the backboard and didn’t even have a prayer of going in.  I don’t even know what to say at this point about him.  The camera caught Byron Scott rolling his eyes after one particularly bad offensive move by Wright.  After the next time out Julian was still playing.  I was surprised, but it didn’t last long. Am I the only one completely flabbergasted by Wright?  Give me your thoughts in the comments.

  • I can’t decide if our best center tonight was Hilton Armstrong or Melvin Ely, who combined for five rebounds, ten points, three assists, eight fouls, two standard issue Armstrong turnovers and one awful Ely hook shot.  The managed that in  36 combined minutes.  Yay.  The only thing that stopped Shaq was his own enormous bulk as he got tired.  None of our centers could even bother him.
  • So – Julian was terrible.  Ely was nearly terrible.  The rest of the bench?  0-5.  Six rebounds.  One assist.  One turnover. Three fouls.  1 point.  Posey can’t come back fast enough.
  • West got rolling in the fourth and almost brought the Hornets back.  Because our centers were always absorbed with Shaq, West had to be the lone rotating big in the post and it cost him several cheap early fouls.  His foul trouble made it hard for him to be aggressive in the third, and contributed to our problems in that period.
  • Peja did well.  I wish he could have knocked down a few of those triples a little earlier in the game – it would have made the comeback easier.  He hadn’t tried posting up since he came back – he tried three times tonight, but couldn’t hold his position against smaller players at all.  Clearly he’s still getting back his legs.
  • Matt Barnes must like Star Trek, because he was sporting Spock’s haircut tonight.

Have a good night.

[Update] More on Paul playing at Nash’s pace – Paul’s quote from the AP Recap:

“There was a point in the game today where you get a little winded because not only was it back-to-back and stuff, but it was a very fast-paced game and trying to run around with Steve Nash and trying to push the tempo,” Paul said. “It just didn’t work out for us tonight. I missed a lot of wide open shots and they got a lot of easy baskets.”

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