The Sixers beat the Hornets

Another one of those games where the Hornets dig themselves a double-digit hole but come back to make it tight down the stretch. In the fourth quarter, they were able to stop the Sixers for stretches and they were able to score for stretches, but unfortunately those two facets didn’t overlap enough for the Hornets to pull it out.

94-101 the final. Here’s your boxscore.

Sixers fastbreak

Philly feasted on defensive boards, quick outlets and fastbreaks. They made the most of Hornets misses and turnovers, running the ball hard and getting easy baskets at the other end. They finished with 23 fastbreak points (the Hornets had 10), but also picked up plenty of points at the free throw line due to the Hornets frequently fouling them on the run.

On the season, the Sixers average 18 fastbreak points per game, second in the league only to the Warriors. They’re built well to run with horses like Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala. Last game against the Hornets they had a 23-11 edge on the break.

Hornets slow-starting offense

While the Sixers were finishing many of their offensive trips within seven seconds, the Hornets seemed to be painfully slow at getting into their halfcourt sets tonight. Granted, they’re not usually speedy in that regard even when Chris Paul’s healthy, but it was remarkable how many times the ball had yet to be moved inside the three-point line and the shot clock hitting single digits.

A lot of that was probably a consequence of the Hornets trying to run more off-ball screens and get guys like Peja cutting through the lane while Darren Collison waited out high for someone to come open. That may actually be good in the long run, since the Hornets could always do with more variation and balance in the offense. Tonight though, they probably would have been better served falling back to the pick and roll game more and letting Collison cause some havoc in the lane.

David West

I was half-expecting D-West to come out and have a monster game tonight as a response to his DNP-CD in the fourth quarter against the Thunder on Wednesday. Instead, he managed just 11 points (4-12 FGs), 8 rebounds and 5 assists despite playing 44 minutes.

Philly deserves a lot of credit for slowing West though. They doubled down on him frequently, forcing him into tough shots or making him give the ball up. West did come through with some nifty passes several times, creating easy scores for his teammates. It’s a shame he didn’t have Marcus Thornton out there to work with; another scoring threat like Buckets would probably have been enough to keep the defense honest and let West get some better looks.

Julian Wright

Julian had the spin cycle working right tonight, making several nice moves in the game and deserving more than the ten minutes of PT he was given. In the second quarter, he seemed to be the only Hornet capable of scoring, reeling off 9 straight points while also doing a nice job on Iguodala defensively.

Mo Pete

Morris Peterson got the start in place of Thornton. The Sixers tried to attack him with Willie Green early, but he held his ground pretty well. Mo was also a key part of a 9-3 Hornets run midway through the third quarter. He ended up playing 20 minutes total, registering 8 points (3-7 FGs), 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers. He definitely had some shoddy plays in this one, but is overall play the last two games has restored some of my faith in him. He deserves kudos for keeping his head up on the bench all season and staying ready.

Saints love

Has there ever been an NBA team showing so much love for its city’s NFL team? The Hornets have been playing Stand Up and Get Crunk (the Saints’ adopted theme song this season) a bunch during home games recently, even having the Honeybees doing their thing to that very tune tonight. Better yet, during a timeout in the second quarter Super Hugo got the crowd going by bursting through a crossed out Colts logo for a trampoline dunk, followed by a shot of Sean Payton whooing in a Hornets jersey on the big screen. There was plenty of black and gold in the house, loving it all.

Also worth noting that the bowels of the Arena have been much emptier during games this week with the majority of the local sports media down in South Florida.

Other notes and observations

  • This loss gives the Hornets a four-game losing streak at New Orleans Arena. They were 16-4 at home before Chris Paul went down with that knee injury last week.
  • This time it was Emeka Okafor getting the DNP-CD in the fourth quarter, something which use to be a regular occurrence but I don’t believe Bower had played that card in a while. I’m not sure his absence in the final frame made much of a difference in the end, especially with Philly’s bigs not being much of a threat down the stretch. Darius Songaila did some decent work in Okafor’s absence.
  • The Sixers shot 48 percent from the field, took 25 free throws and were +10 on the boards.
  • The best takeaway from this game for the Hornets was the play of Stojakovic. He finished with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting. It’s night and day how much he’s involved in the offense when the team is with and without Chris Paul.
  • Jason Hart played 7 minutes in his Hornets debut. He went scoreless but did have 2 assists, a steal, a block, a rebound and a turnover. Overall I thought he handled point guard duties pretty well. He didn’t take too much out of the ball and gave it up to his teammates in good spots. Defensively, I can’t recall him doing anything disastrous.

Looking ahead

The Hornets now take off on a two-game road trip, starting tomorrow in Charlotte before hitting up Orlando on Monday. Then the All-Star break will be sandwiched by visits from the Celtics and Jazz. None of those games will be easy, even if Marcus Thornton is able to make a comeback.

With the losses starting to come more frequently now, you’ve got to wonder if the Hornets are capable of staying afloat until Chris Paul comes back. There’s a very real possibility that they could go 3-10 over the next month, which would leave them with a 29-34 record at the optimistic return date for CP. Given that they’ve gone 21-17 with Paul in the lineup, I’m not confident that they’ll have enough regular season left at that point to get back in the playoff race.

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