Hornets Win a Strange One

Published: February 11, 2010

In the last game before the Mardi Gras break, the Bees pulled out a tough win against the reeling Boston Celtics. An optimist would call this a defensive battle, but in reality it looked more like an average Wednesday at the YMCA. The combined forty five turnovers set a season high for both teams, and left some fans (fine it was me) wondering if Adrian Peterson was disguised as a point guard.

Darren Collison

Who knew it was possible for a point guard set a franchise record for turnovers (10) and still dominate his competition? What about saying that same guy was the team’s best player? Oddly enough, Collison proved both possible tonight against the overrated and over-matched Rajon Rondo. He totaled 25 points on 16 shots, and had nine assists, finishing only one shy of a very strange triple double.

With 9:23 left in the fourth quarter, Peja made a layup. It would be the last time a Hornet other than Collison made a field goal. In fact, no other Hornet even scored a point for nearly eight minutes after the Stojakovic lay in. In that time, Collison took over, scoring 11 straight for the Bees, while the rest of team was ice cold. It was a truly CP3-like fourth quarter performance.

As far as the turnovers go, the ball just wasn’t bouncing right for either team. As I’ve talked about before, Collison isn’t great at keeping the rock, but today was even worse than usual. He was dribbling off of shoes all over the court, the ball was being poked from his hand nearly every possession, and he just clearly wasn’t feeling right running the point. Rookies do stuff like this, and it’s important to note how he came back from it.

His fourth quarter, fueled by a crazed and surprisingly full arena, reminded us that this kid is for real despite having lots of room to grow.

The Phoenix

Just kidding. Rasual Butler has not returned to the bees, but Morris Peterson did his best Phoenix impression, rising from the ashes of his former self to lead the team in rebounds (10), while winding up with 16 points on 10 shots, including three crowd pleasing treys. The double-double was his first in over two years.

Defensively he redeemed himself a little after the pitiful effort against Vince Carter, holding a noticeably slowed Paul Pierce to 15 points on 4-11 shooting. It was a bit surprising to see him off the floor in the closing minutes considering how well he played. If he played like this every game, the Hornets would be a substantially better team, much more capable of spreading the floor and creating space.

The Rest

  • In what has become a recurring theme, Peja looked like his old self again, hitting shots from all over the floor, knocking down big threes, driving the lane, rebounding, handling the ball, playing defense, and just being awesome. He was at his best in the third quarter, in which the Hornets outscored the Celtics 29 to 12.
  • Okafor played 24 minutes, and scored only 3 points, but led the team in plus/minus. During the crucial third quarter run, he managed nine rebounds and two blocks, providing an interior presence that the team seemed to lack in the first half. Despite possibly his best quarter of the year, Okafor sat the entire fourth in favor of West. It seemed to work out.
  • David West played with some passion tonight. Often matched up against the trash talking Kevin Garnett, he clearly took some pride in his pre-fourth quarter defense, at least in the second half. He only hit 4 of 13 shots, but made up for it with some sweet passing. His six assists were a season high, and two of them led to wide open three pointers. His steal and assist to Collison with 2:20 to go was huge. The effort was nice to see tonight. Maybe someone should talk trash to him every game?
  • Saints in the house — Normally I won’t say much about spectators, but this was relevant. At least 10 Saints players showed up at the game, which left the team scrambling to find suitable seating at halftime for the heroes of the city. Having the players on hand jacked up the crowd and kept the arena bumping. Each time the crowd was riled up late, the Celtics turned it over. “Stand Up and Get Crunk” was credited in the box score for a steal.

  • Chris Paul needs to sit down and stay off his leg. Seriously, when Collison scores, Paul jumps higher than D-West has in years. I love the team spirit, I love that he cares, but stop jumping Chris. We need you!
  • Somehow the Bees managed to out-rebound the Celtics by 10. A rarity for one of the NBA’s worst rebounding teams.
  • In the second quarter the Hornets were outscored 28-14, with Darius Songaila being the only Bee to make a field goal.
  • In even numbered quarters, Hornets’ players whose first names start with the letter D outscored other Hornets 31-4. In those same quarters, only David West, Darius Songaila, Darren Collison, and Peja scored for the usually well-rounded Bees.
  • Marcus Thornton played nine uneventful minutes. He was not his usual self and is obviously still hampered by the back injury.
  • Rondo looked awful. It’s incredible to me that he has the nerve to talk trash to Chris Paul about a championship ring that literally any point guard in the league would have won in the same situation. I won’t go so far as to call him a punk, but before too long that might be the appropriate term. Quite frankly he’s an average passer, a horrible shooter, and a good defensive player. If he hadn’t been handed a title, nobody would know him from D.J. Augustin.

UPDATE: Lots of video from NBA.com…

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