« Post-Game Journal Report: Game 14: Hawks @ Hornets
The Heat Beat the Hornets
It was an ugly game, that’s for sure. 39% shooting for the Hornets vs. 52% for the Heat. A nine free-throw disadvantage. Okafor struggling all game with foul trouble. Despite that, the Hornets were right in there at the end as fought hard, dragging down 11 offensive rebounds to the Heat’s 4, forced five more turnovers, and continued to pour it in from downtown as Posey joined Thornton and Stojakovic in knocking down deep shots at a high rate.
Also important was the way the guys fought back, having fallen behind by more than ten on two seperate occasions before the fourth. That they were willing to battle and had a chance at a game winning shot says a lot about the differences between this team under Bower, and this team under Scott.
In related news, the Hornet’s rookies, who combined for 85 minutes in nine games under Byron Scott, entered tonight’s game 2nd and 4th amongst rookies in PER. Amongst the entire NBA, they ranked 17th(Thornton) and 42nd. (Collison) The next sportswriter who blames Scott’s firing on financial woes needs to suffer a quick kick in the rear.
Observations from the game:
- Tonight the Hornets were bitten by what I call the “Bryant Rule”. It’s when the “man” on the team decides they must win the game single-handedly. I hate everything about it, since an offense’s primary advantage is that the other team doesn’t know where a shot will come from. When a team clears out for a single teammate, or the teammate breaks the play like West did tonight, that advantage becomes much more limited. Tonight, not only did West succumb to the “Bryant Rule”, he also committed another cardinal sin: The Hornets were down 1, and instead of making a move when he got it with 12 seconds to go, he dribbled around, wasted clock, and then took the shot. If the game is tied, that’s the correct play, but the Hornets were down, and they needed to go right away and try to score. If they hit, the onus went back to the Heat to manufacture a shot. At worst, the Hornets miss, they foul, the Heat got two free throws and then the Hornets get another chance to win or send it to overtime. Instead, time was wasted, a poor shot went up, and it was over. Compound error.
- Like last game, West was most effective offensively when he got the ball late in the game, forced a double team, and then kicked the ball out to find the open man. Unfortunately, his passing was off tonight – and the pinpoint passes he’d delivered the past few games kept ending up in the crowd. He did work hard on the glass, and moved his feet well enough defensively. The Hornets do need his shot to re-materialize, though.
- I was a little surprised at how little Bower used his centers, Marks and Okafor through the game. Yes, they (particularly Okafor) battled foul trouble, but they were both cleaning the offensive glass nicely, and despite Songaila’s strong play, I would have liked to have seen them get a few more than 24 minutes between them.
- Collison struggled at times guarding Chalmers. He kept getting rubbed off on picks and ended up trailing the play, unable to get back in because of Chalmers greater strength. Still, he did a good job against Wade when matched up against him, and in general had a solid game. 3-12 shooting, 11 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and a lone turnover.
- Devin Brown couldn’t stay in front of Dwayne Wade to save his life. Wade also recognized this and drove right at him as soon as he was covering him, resulting in two and-ones and three dunks. Bower had a short leash for Brown as a result, and Marcus Thornton played 38 minutes, while scoring 24 points on 9-19 shooting. Thornton did miss a free throw at the end, but I’m not about to complain about his output.
- When Paul comes back, the guard rotation should be set at this point. Paul, Collison and Thornton should rotate through the two primary guard spots, with Devin Brown getting spot duty if having two small guards out there is killing us.
- There was Julian Wright cameo in the third. Unfortunately, on the first play he was in, he left Beasley alone on the three-point line to deliver a soft double to Jermaine O’Neal. Since he didn’t go hard, O’Neal had an open passing lane to Beasley, who caught it and drilled a three before Wright could recover. He’s got to figure out that help defense thing.
Next game is Wednesday when Milwaukee comes a visiting.
UPDATE: Check Mr. Kennedy’s post-game Journal report.