Hornets Silence Thunder for 1st Preseason Win
11,568 people saw the New Orleans Hornets beat the OKC Thunder yesterday afternoon, which is an amazing number for a Saturday preseason game considering all the stuff going on in south Louisiana yesterday. I mean, after all, it WAS Tulane’s homecoming (going on next door in the Louisiana Superdome at the same time), and the Alice Cooper concert later that night….. oh there was also some football game or something going on in Baton Rouge too. Let’s dig right into some thoughts about the contest.
The Hornets featured Devin Brown at the starting SG spot for reasons still unknown, other than it was preseason. That said, his 3-point stroke was accurate today, and he took those shots with a good rhythm. Let us pray that carries over to the regular season.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly regarding Hilton Armstrong. The good: He looks like he’s worked on his ball security in the off-season. On some of his inside post moves, he kept the ball high and close to his body. The result only one turnover and 8 points. The bad: He just flat out cannot rebound the basketball. At 6’11, you have got to be able to go get the ball when it’s in the air. In one situation, he got credited with an offensive board and 2 points without even touching the ball, because Krstic tipped the ball into the Hornets goal and Hilton just happened to be the closest Hornet to the play. The ugly: Armstrong fouled out in just 20 minutes of playing time…. in a preseason game. Replacement refs or not, OUCH!
Julian Wright’s line looks real bad in the box score (1-11 FG), but he held down Kevin Durant all game long (2-11 FG). The shooting woes have got to be corrected though.
Peja looks comfortable coming off the bench, but he also looks a step slower defensively. It took about 20 seconds for Jeff Green to abuse him for a baseline dunk in the 1st quarter after Peja entered the game. He didn’t appear to be in any discomfort though, which is a good thing.
Speaking of Jeff Green, he’s added a 15-footer to his arsenal, and he’s not afraid to take it. He’ll face up, knock that shot down off of screens, and even take it in transition. This kid impressed me a lot, even though he can still cut down on some mental mistakes. He should never have to play 34 minutes in a preseason game though. I don’t know what Scott Brooks was thinking.
Thunder F: Ryan Bowen, DNP CD. This is my sad face.
Young Guard Report: Bobby Brown looked a bit indecisive when he was running the point, but MAN has that guy got speed. You can definitely see Collison’s upside. He’s a good ball-handler, has good instincts, but just needs some experience and a little more muscle to bang with the NBA’s best. He’ll be fine. Thornton showed the Thunder that he cannot be left open, or he will let it fly. He hit a couple of 3′s, and even the shots he missed were in good rhythm. He had an issue with having passes intercepted, but that comes with experience too.
Byron Scott decided to put Chris Paul back into the lineup with just over three minutes left in the game. I didn’t understand it at the time, but he put CP in the game at the 2, and let Collison run the offense. Every single play stoppage, Chris would walk up to the rookie and do lots of pointing. The rookie responded with lots of nodding his head. That must have been some good in-game tutelage going on, and that is a welcome thing to see. It’s not often a superstar player of Chris Paul’s caliber will take a player under his wing like that. Just think about how good Collison can be as a result of Paul’s mentorship.
The replacement refs had a real good 1st three quarters of calling the game. Then they forgot who got the ball 1st in the 4th quarter. Then they forgot which goal the teams were defending. Then James Posey got a technical foul, and they walked over to the wrong end of the court to shoot the free throws. Very forgettable fourth quarter for the officiating crew.
I’d like to thank Niall for giving me a chance to do this quick write-up. I look forward to seeing all of you in the arena and on the 247, and look forward to yelling from 303 all season long.