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The Hornets beat the Pacers

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Published: February 20, 2010

The Hornets proved once more that they are very concerned about health and wellness.  Sporting a 20-point lead at the half and heading for a nice, relaxing blowout, the guys thoughtfully allowed the lead to slip to only four, raising the heart rate of all fans, both Pacer or Hornet, to acceptable levels.

Happily, after the letdown, there was a great team effort during the end of the fourth to keep the Pacers at bay.  Peja had a three and a big assist to West,  West drained two shots and had a great assist to Collison,  and Collison had a steal, coast-to-coast layup, a three, and a big jumper.  Even Okafor got into the act, muscling in a rolling layup and hitting a free-throw line jumper that made me give out a groan that quickly turned into a yelp of delight.

Oh, and Darren Collison had a triple double and Paul handed him the game ball.  Let’s start there.

Darren Collison

Like I said, a triple double.  Yes, he did it in a lot of minutes(45) and he had 8 turnovers, but the kid is turning into a bankable monster night in and night out.  18 points on 13 shots, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 1 three and shrieks of delight from every fantasy league owner who snatched him off FA list when Paul went down. 

In the first half, as the team built their lead, Collison was relentless, pushing the pace and keeping the Pacers on their heels.  This no small feat considering the Pacers are the third fastest team in the league – and Collison was beating them at their own game.

My favorite Collison moment of the game was during a brief close-up during an inbounds play, when TJ Ford was clutching and bumping him, hoping to slow him down so he couldn’t get to the ball.  For just a brief second, Collison cocked his head and gave Ford a look I can’t call anything but a sneer.  He knew TJ couldn’t handle him.  Crazy confidence.

David West

One of my favorite David West attributes over the years has been his stealth games – the ones when he’d collect 25+ points without me even noticing.  Time and time again, he’d be shooting free throws in the fourth, and the little graphic would flash that he had 27 points and I’d try for the life of me to figure out where he’d picked up those extra 10 points he shouldn’t have.

Those games had been missing this season – until tonight, with West putting up 29 points, 9 rebounds and career high 7 assists.  I mean, I knew he was shooting lots of free throws, but 15 of them?  Wow.  That helps.

I also have to celebrate his passing tonight.  He’s still not particularly good when a quick double hits him on his first dribble in the post – but given just a second or two longer, he’s great at the cross-court skip pass for the open three.

Other Observations

  • Peja started off the game rough as Danny Granger kept anticipating his dribble drives and picking him clean.  Peja kept gamely at it though, cutting through the lane and keeping the pressure on the interior defense.  His revival and complete game over the last 10 games has been a joy to watch. 17 points on 13 shots, 8 rebounds(!) and a pair of steals.
  • I’d like to thank the Pacers for not realizing that Danny Granger wasn’t going to be slowed by Peterson or Stojakovic in the first half.  If they had tried to get him the ball early, he would have ended with 45, easy.
  • Morris Peterson hit three threes.  My buddy would adamantly claim that’s why the Hornets won.  I still think he’s an idiot, but I’m wavering towards him being only mostly an idiot.
  • Aaron Gray was awful in his 2 minutes, losing the ball out of bounds multiple times when he had easy looks at the basket.  I’d be tempted to call him a stiff, but that implies some sort of firmness, at attribute that he is distinctly lacking. (What?  Too harsh?  I’m fat too, doesn’t that make it okay to make jokes about it?)
  • Julian Wright had a nice, solid game, looking particularly good in the up-tempo first half.  If the Hornets could play the Warriors and Pacers all year long, Julian would be amazing.
  • Marcus Thornton was really off on his floaters at the basket, but he still brought valuable aggression and tipped an offensive rebound to West on a vital posession at the end of the game. 12 points on 13 shots and a pair of rebounds for the rookie.

Next game is Houston on Sunday against the Houston Rockets.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Rockets work in hyper-efficient scorer Kevin Martin, and if Martin can make up for the loss of another hyper-efficient scorer in Landry.

UPDATE: Game highlights from NBA.com…

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