The Hornets beat the Mavericks
The Hornets got a much-needed win in their final home game of the regular season, beating the Mavs 102-92. Chris Paul and David West did the heavy lifting once again, but they got a lot more help in this one than they did on Friday in Dallas. James Posey gave us some toughness, defense and a big three, while Rasual Butler and Peja Stojakovic also came through with big buckets down the stretch.
- This was Posey’s best game in months. He only shot 2-of-6 from the field and finished with 8 points, but his hard foul on Dirk Nowitzki late in Q3 really got the crowd in the game and sent a message to the Mavs that they wouldn’t be getting anything easy. Nowitzki was killing us up until that foul, but would only score 5 of his 29 points thereafter. Posey was all over him on D, swiping and poking at the ball, the getting right up in Dirk’s face when he turned towards the basket. Posey also knocked down a big triple with 4:30 left to break a tie, and assisted on Peja’s dagger with 1:08 left. And perhaps more importantly, he knocked down two free throws with 26 seconds left to get everbody some free chicken. I’m really hoping we see a lot more of this James Posey in the coming weeks.
- Glad to see Byron putting three shooters out there with West and Paul again. That worked well in Dallas, and we went with it for most of the second half in this one. As a result, Paul and West had more room to work and deliver.
- Only a 41-36 advantage for Dallas on the boards, compared to the 54-38 edge they had on Friday. A good team effort by the Hornets to close that gap. Byron not playing Hilton Armstrong helped, too. The Mavs did have 14 offensive boards to our 2, but only four of theirs came in the second half. Especially nice to see Brandon Bass kept in check, since he killed us on the boards last game.
- Chris Paul was phenomenal, sick and fourteen different kinds of incredible. His numbers: 31 points (11-of-15 FGs), 17 assists, 9 boards, 2 steals and 1 turnover (on an offensive foul). There didn’t seem to be as much pounding of the ball in this one, Chris instead making quick and decisive moves and forcing the defense to react. He had active hands on D and pushed the pace when the opportunities were there. 45 minutes for him today, all of them fascinating.
- We force fed Peja at the start of each half, trying to get him going. He just didn’t have it working though, and I thought we were right to go away from him on offense. Really a rough game for him overall, save for that late three. He bricked a few open looks, got blocked by Kidd once and threw a horrible outlet pass that Bass stole with 2:24 left. He did grab 6 boards though, and he was instrumental in keeping that defense stretched.
- 31 points on 14-of-21 shooting for D-West. That despite seeing regular double teams again, and missing a few of his easier looks. He was the main guy getting burned by Dirk through the first three quarters, but you knew that was going to be a tough cover. I actually thought West did a decent job of it, but Nowitzki was on a roll.
- I mentioned that Dirk didn’t score much in the fourth quarter, but shame on the Mavs for not getting him the ball more. They seemed to work hard forcing Posey to switch off via screens, then wouldn’t feed Dirk when he had Peja or Mo Pete on his back. Instead they settled for far too many quick, ill-advised shots by Jason Terry.
- J.J. Barea gave us problems. He was able to beat CP off the dribble and get in the lane and he’s pretty savvy when he gets in there, making good decisions whether to pass or shoot. Our slow-footed bigs got taken by surprise several times. That said, the Mavs rolled the dice by having Kidd, Terry and Barea out there together for long stretches; didn’t work out for them.
- Ely started and he was nice for the most part. He set some good picks to free Peja and he was able to deter some drives by Josh Howard. He also didn’t completely suck at rebounding, which was nice. Sean Marks also got a few minutes today, but they weren’t pretty.
- This being the last home game of the regular season, the Hornets did the fan appreciation thing. I didn’t hang around for the postgame video and giveaway dealio, but apparently that was cool. George Shinn addressed the crowd before the game, saying he’d try with every breath to get an NBA championship to New Orleans, and asking the fans if they believed. He got a good response.
(BTW, the Hornets didn’t sell out this game, with only 16,640 in attendance. Note to NBA: Don’t schedule an afternoon game in New Orleans on Easter Sunday. Folks here be being busy with the religious stuff.)
On to Houston to face the Rockets tomorrow, and then we’re in San Antonio on Friday to wrap up the regular season. Right now we have sole possession of the 6 seed, with little chance of moving up the standings. To steal the 5 spot from the Spurs we need to win our final two and they need to lose their last three (@ Kings, @ Warriors, then us).
To make sure we stay the 6th seed, all the Hornets have to do is win one of these final two games. That would give us 50 wins. Dallas can finish with 50 too, but we own the tiebreaker, and the best the Jazz can do is finish at 49-33.
Should be an interesting three days.