The Hornets beat the Clippers

Just what the doctor ordered.

The Hornets finally looked like a professional basketball team tonight, as they took apart the Clippers at the Staples Center. Our guys had it clicking on both sides of the ball, as evidenced by the 112-84 final score ( box | recap ).

Skipping the bullets and doing this recap ClipperBlog style…

Three-point barrage

After being burned repeatedly by the three ball in recent games, tonight it was the Hornets making it rain from downtown. Devin Brown and Peja Stojakovic got nice open looks in the first quarter and kept knocking them down. The Hornets would finish the quarter shooting 7-of-9 from deep, and all those buckets seemed to give everyone a little more energy on the defensive end.

Devin Brown

Where to begin? This guy was thrust into the starting lineup yesterday against the Lakers and instantly proved to be an offensive upgrade over Morris Peterson. Tonight against the Clippers, Devin took it to a whole new level. He was everywhere in this one: knocking down threes, playing great help defense, coming up with steals, running and finishing the break. I can only assume he stole some of Kobe’s talent yesterday, Space Jam style.

Devin’s final line: 30 minutes, 25 points, 8-14 FGs, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals.

History proves that DB can’t be counted on to play like this night in and night out, and so he’s obviously not the long-term answer at shooting guard. But savor his performance tonight for what it was: outstanding.

The rookies

Another bump in playing time for Collison and Thornton; 17 and 18 minutes respectively. They did a great job pushing the tempo and keeping the Hornets’ energy high in the second quarter, and both guys showed flashes of brilliance for the second straight game. They also showed plenty of room for improvement though, with Collison’s jumper looking shaky and Thornton forcing the issue too much when his jumper wouldn’t fall.

Gotta love seeing the young guys out there making those mistakes though. Reminds me of that Ben Franklin quote: “Tell me and I’ll forget. Teach me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll learn.” Hopefully Byron took note that the sky didn’t fall when Collison turned the ball over, and the ground didn’t open up when Thornton charged into Ricky Davis.

Hornets’ defense

I’m not going to get too high on the Hornets D after this one. The rotations and switches did look sharp, but those were the Clippers on offense, minus Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon. Plus, the Clips botched multiple easy looks that they should have put away.

I will single out Emeka Okafor though for the stellar job he did on newly anointed Western Conference Player of the Week Chris Kaman. Kaman started hot with 10 of his 14 points coming mostly from jumpers in the first 13 minutes. He didn’t get many open looks beyond that though, and Okafor refused to give up anything easy when the Clippers repeatedly went to Kaman with his back to the basket. Not that Okafor did it all by his lonesome; consistent help D from his teammates forced Kaman into some tough spots.

Chris Paul

Finally: a great game by Chris doesn’t go to waste. He was doing the same things in this one that he’d been doing all season, only difference being that his teammates were matching his energy and knocking down open looks. Scary moment before halftime when Chris twisted his ankle. I thought maybe he would have been better off sitting out the rest of the game, but then remembered that he’s made of invincible.

David West

No secret that he’d been struggling so far this season, but he looked more like a two-time All-Star tonight. He got some jumpers falling early and mixed it up inside later, getting after rebounds and playing physical. It helped that Marcus Camby played terrible. West finished with 17 points (8-14 FGs) and 9 boards in 29 minutes of action.

Easy to understate this win since it came against a short-handed Clippers team, but the Hornets desperately needed a W. It stops the tailspin and gives them something positive to build on as they head into a stretch of three tough games: at Phoenix Wednesday, hosting the Blazers Friday, and at Atlanta on Saturday.

Finishing it out with some Hornets-Clippers video highlights, and be sure to check out Mr. Kennedy’s post-game Journal report.

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