Hornets dump Clippers at home, 110-102

Published: November 18, 2009

Hey folks, I’ll be filling in for Ryan and Niall from time to time, and tonight is one of those times.  Given my handle, I’d make a joke about Medieval Times, but there’s probably plenty of time for that later.  Anyway, the important thing is the basketball, and that is what we’re all here for.

The Hornets got back on the winning track tonight, beating the visiting Clippers 110-102 at the Hive.  I can’t feign surprise at this, even given all the Hornets’ issues, seeing as how Los Angeles is terrible.  Of course, that also makes trying to gain any real insight from this game a difficult task, but I will give it my best shot anyway.

The first point of order:  Why is Devin Brown playing?  More importantly, why is he starting?  It may seem ridiculous to bag on the guy when he drops 16 points on the stat sheet, but look at the shooting percentage (40 percent) and turnovers (three).  How can playing Marcus Thornton (40 percent shooting and ZERO turnovers) more be any worse of an option?  I really think its time Thornton started getting 30 minutes a game instead of 20.  After all, we all want to see how good he can be.  I’m pretty sure we know about Brown at this point.

And I know someone will try to tell me Brown should be out there for veteran leadership.  Or something like that anyway.  So what is he doing letting himself get taken out on a basic ball screen at the end of the half for an easy three?  That made the score 58-53 instead of 58-50 at the break.  Not an unforgiveable sin, but not exactly a very heady play either.  Also, no two-for-one at the end of the third quarter?  Sean Marks canned a long one to make that decision less of a painful one, but he had enough to time to create a decent shot and give his team an extra possession … and yet he didn’t do it.

Brown nailed an early three, one minute in, and I had high hopes.  Of course he then followed it up by bouncing one off his leg.  He was bailed out in the lane several times thanks to poor Clippers defense, but you just aren’t going to see that every night.  “Poor Clippers defense” was a pretty consistent theme the whole night, and it had as much to do with the final result as anything.

Contrast his play with that of Darren Collison, and it looks all the more jarring.

Collison finished with 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and added six assists (to just two turnovers) with three rebounds.  He finished on the break.  He showed a pretty pull-up jumper, a great floater … the kid just knows how to score from 12 feet in.  Chris Paul has really taken him under his wing, as CP3 seems to be bending his ear at every timeout, and I think you can see that manifesting itself on the court.

Also, I think I’m developing a man crush on Collison, if only because he gives me hope the Pargo grumbling will finally go away (a man can always dream).

The Hornets had trouble putting this one away, but that’s going to be the case every night until Paul comes back.  7-0 became 10-10 very quickly, and we saw that repeatedly throughout the night.  Hornets build a lead, Clippers come back.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

If Steve Novak cans that three at the 2:40 mark, and if David West doesn’t crash the offensive boards on the ensuing Hornets possession, this sucker might be a loss.  But you take the positives where you can right now, and I’m not going to look those gift horses in the mouth.  Realistically, that sequence locked the win up right there, and that kind of ruthlessness (particularly from West) has been lacking this year.  It was nice to see it return, even if it came a little late for most fans’ tastes.

All in all, I’m happy to be on the winning side once again.  And I can’t wait to see what Thornton and Collison can do from here on … it should be fun to watch.

Other thoughts:

  • Rasual Butler returns to the Hive.  Much ado about nothing?  Butler scored 12 points on efficient shooting, and never once hurt his team as near as I could tell.  But on second thought, that makes is a perfectly natural return to New Orleans, doesn’t it?  He was never going to make this game about himself … he’s too big for that.
  • Anybody see that infant nearly eat one in the first quarter?  What the heck were that kids’ parents thinking?  I know it must be difficult to turn down courtside seats, but if you’ve got a three-month old, you might want to keep the kid out of harm’s way.
  • At 10 minutes in, I’d already lost track of how many times the Hornets were out of position on a rebound and tried to tip it away from behind.
  • I like Emeka Okafor, even though he had a rough night.  He was smaller than Chris Kaman, and he even looked a little less athletic (is that even possible?), but he worked his way to some good things (seven points and 14 rebounds).  Perfect example came late in the first, with him nursing an 0-for-3 night, and the Hornets ran a double screen for him, which got him an easy bucket thanks to his positioning under the hoop.  Smart play.  He’s still as active as ever blocking shots, but given West’s lapses, it would help tremendously to have him put more of his energy into rebounding.  Of course then he wouldn’t be Okafor though.
  • What can you say about West?  His shot was falling, ergo he was an asset.  But the play that still jumps out in my mind was, surprise surprise, an effort play (or rather, a “lack-of” effort play).  2:47 left in the half, West has a ball hit him in the leg.  Clipper dives on the ball.  West stands there, waving his arms at the ball like he’s playing table tennis with it.
  • Marcus Camby has the look of a guy who mentally checked out of pro basketball a year ago.
  • If Thornton ever starts hitting from outside consistently I think Hornets fans will start being pleasantly surprised by the team’s offensive production.  He heated up big-time when it mattered in the fourth tonight, canning two threes in quick succession to give the Hornets a 95-79 lead.  Prior to that, he’d been ice-cold … but had still been extremely active and as smooth with the ball as ever.
  • Posey still makes my brain hurt.  A “glue” guy is supposed to understand the value of the ball, and should consequently be focused on protecting it.  Posey is the polar opposite of that … his turnover with under 6 minutes to play setting up an easy Clippers bucket was inexcusable.

UPDATE: Check Mr. Kennedy’s post-game Journal report. And here’s some game highlights from NBA.com. Should we start calling Collison The Little Mermaid?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Bower’s comments post-game.

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