The Raptors beat the Hornets

The Hornets played the Raptors evenly for the first, second and fourth quarters tonight. It was the third quarter that killed them. Up 56-51 ninety seconds into the second half, the Hornets then could only watch as Toronto took off on a 32-7 run. The Raps dropped 8-of-10 triples during that stretch and never looked back. 107-90 was the final score ( box | recap ).

Chris Paul came through with another big game for the Hornets, finishing with 21 points (8-13 FGs), 18 assists, 7 boards, 2 steals and just one turnover. Big numbers like that from CP used to be a nice consolation in a loss, but these days it’s just depressing. He’s playing out of this world, and the Hornets are still getting spanked. Word is he didn’t stick around to talk to the media after the game either. This woeful start to the season must be killing him.

Jumping into some bullets:

  • When the Raptors weren’t lighting it up from deep in the third quarter, they were playing some zone defense that the Hornets had trouble cracking. And when they weren’t in that zone, they did a nice job crowding the middle and recovering to challenge the Hornets shooters. There were holes there for our wings to drive off the catch, but alas, most of our wings can’t drive.
  • The Raps also did a solid job defending the pick and roll, hedging hard with a big and having an extra man help enough to cover West fading or Okafor rolling.

  • Chris Bosh: 27 points (9-9 FGs) and 7 rebounds. He showed the entire offensive arsenal tonight. Post moves, fade-aways, hook shots, as well as a three pointer and plenty of hard drives that got him to the free throw line. I was impressed with his intensity and focus on the defensive end, too. Truly a great player.
  • Julian Wright, Morris Peterson, James Posey and Emeka Okafor were almost invisible out there tonight. JuJu got dunked on hard by Bosh at one point, which served him right for playing lazy help defense.
  • Silver lining: the rookies got some burn. Unfortunately it was only two minutes of garbage time, but it’s progress. Collison looked nervous out there and made some mistakes on both ends, while Thornton missed a jumper but did score on an offensive rebound.
  • Rajon Rondo was right about one thing: Chris Paul does have the ball in his hands an awful lot. I’d be willing to bet that the Hornets make a lot more passes per offensive trip when Paul is out of the game. Not that they score more as a result, but I wonder if the offense would be more successful if the same type of ball movement happened when Chris was in the game.
  • The Hornets shot 14 free throws in the first half. The didn’t make one trip to the line for the first 15 minutes of the second half.
  • Bobby Brown was back to his chucking ways in the fourth quarter. I like him much better when he’s only shooting open, spot-up threes, or taking the ball hard to the rack.

Worth noting that Byron Scott was late to his usual post-game press conference. I can only assume he was chewing guys out in the locker room. With the media, he mainly spoke about the lack of energy and effort on display by the Hornets tonight, which he said was surprising to him since he only put the team through a light practice yesterday. He didn’t seem too keen on accepting responsibility for the problem either: “Energy and effort is inside you. It’s not something you can coach or teach.”

I think it’s time to seriously question whether the players have quit on Byron Scott. He wasn’t wrong about the lack of energy and effort tonight. I didn’t see any fire from our guys in the third quarter when the Raptors were busy stepping on their throats. That’s a problem that has nothing to do with integrating six new players into the system. You can blame poor defensive rotations and mistimed passes on the summer shake-up, but it doesn’t explain the players’ lack of emotion when they were getting their asses handed to them after halftime. Even Chris Paul seemed unusually accepting of what was going on, almost like he was saying to himself “What’s the point?” Not a good sign.

Lakers on Sunday.

UPDATE: Mr. Kennedy’s post-game Journal report.

And video of Byron’s post-game press conference:

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