The Hornets Beat the Mavericks

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Published: November 5, 2009

Now THAT was a barnburner.  When West got that technical in the fourth, with the Hornets down 3, I was certain that game was done.  Then, Wow.  Three missed Dallas free-throws later, Peja, drills a slightly off-balance three, his first and only made shot of the night, West moves his feet and gets a steal, and the Hornets do their usual unstoppable act in overtime.  Lots to talk about in this one:

  • First the Chris Paul Insane Shooting Update:  He went 14-23 tonight, and 3-4 from three.  Incredibly, that lowers his shooting percentages for the season to 64% from the field and 75% from three. 
  • Tonight we got to see the difference between Bobby Brown the point guard, and Bobby Brown the shooting guard.  He had some of the best cuts I’ve seen by a Hornet player in years, and he’s starting to get more comfortable with his teammates.  He still has a too-quick trigger finger at times, but tonight something huge happened:  Early in the second quarter, Bobby was getting out of control – he had already had two bad posessions dribbling the ball too much and was about to launch into another one when a piercing whistle cut the air.  Bobby stopped, looked up, and Byron yelled out instructions, gesturing furiously.  Moments later, the ball was in Songaila’s hands, the play was being run, and Bobby never looked out of control again.
  • Byron also made some other important moves tonight.  He had Posey on the floor to start the fourth – and when Posey couldn’t even stay in the same area code with Jason Terry on two straight posessions, he put in Chris Paul, shifted Mo Pete to Terry and went with that.  Now, that may seem like no big deal – but for Byron, that’s a HUGE deal.  He’s always been one to settle on rotations, and try to stick with them, even when things start crapping out.  Tonight, he yanked Posey quick.  He yanked Armstrong quick after a couple bad offensive and defensive lapses, and went with Songaila.  When Peterson couldn’t harass Terry, he yanked him and went  with Bobby, who could at least stay in front of him most of the time.  Can we hope Byron is turning the corner? 

  • Terry was crazy.  Like I said in the game preview, he always kills the Hornets, and he was true to form, drilling everything he put up.  35 points on 18(!) shots.  Crazy bastard.
  • David West was rolling tonight, like he always does against Nowitzki and company.  West struggles against long, quick power forwards like Garnett, Odom, and Kenyon Martin.  He typically punishes smaller players or guys who have no foot-speed.  Nowitzki falls into that last category.  West can handle him defensively because Nowitzki can’t outmuscle him, and that leaves Nowitzki one remaining advantage – his height and unblockable jumper.  So he unleashes it against West – but a contested mid-range jumper, no matter how unblockable, is infinitely less efficient than one going to the basket.  It’s why the Hornets are a tough matchup for the Mavericks.
  • The interior defense of the Hornets was much improved tonight.  The problem, however, was they kept shifting to help each other on penetration so much that Dampier was an offensive rebounding and putback machine.  Still, that is infinitely better than a lay-up line.
  • Julian missed all three of his shots – and none of them were good shots either.  For all his potential, and the energy he showed grabbing rebounds, if I was a Hornets coach, I’d also have a hard time keeping Julian on the floor for more than 18 minutes.  With Peja – or even Peterson to some extent, you at least make one of the defenders play honestly and stick with him – giving Paul more room to operate.
  • Okafor and West, aided by Peterson and Wright, won the battle of the boards for the Hornets for the first time this season.
  • Okafor was also huge defensively in the fourth with some wonderful putbacks and blocks. Like I said in the preview, he did struggle against Dampier’s strength, making it hard for him to score in the post, but I’m still perfectly happy with 11 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists and a steal. He was also a good 70% of the reason why Marion could never finish when he got near the rim – the other part being Marion just can’t finish that well anymore. 
  • Speaking of finishing terribly, I’d like to thank Jason Kidd for driving to the hoop on two key posessions at the end of the game.  Nothing speaks more to the deterioration of his skills than the fact that the Hornets played Stojakovic, Posey and Songaila on him defensively for a lot of the game, and Kidd was still not a threat except as a spot up shooter.
  • Songaila was nice.  He quietly got free for a bunch of short jumpers, ran the offense intelligently and did a passable job on Marion and Nowitzki when filling in for West.  If Diogu can come back and take Armstrong’s minutes effectively, I think our frontcourt rotation could be solidified.

Next game is Friday, when the Raptors come calling.

UPDATE: Video highlights from NBA.com:

Also, in the Journals: Mr. Kennedy’s Hornets-Mavericks report.

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