The Mavericks beat the Hornets

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Published: March 1, 2010

The Hornets fell into their patented hole again tonight, watching the Mavericks click on all cylinders and go up by as much as 25 points in the third quarter. Luckily, New Orleans also seems to have a patent on unlikely resurrections, as they fought hard to get the Dallas lead down to 4 points with 2:45 left on the clock. It seemed Hornets fans might be in for their second incredible comeback of the weekend, but alas, Dirk Nowitzki was sipping the unstoppable and dropped in enough turnaround jumpers over James Posey to seal the deal for the bad guys.

108-100 the final score. Some quick game notes before the full moon takes me…

Okafor anyone?

If any one guy turned this game around for the Hornets, it was Emeka Okafor. I’ve been down on his performance the past few weeks, but in that third quarter he was playing all kinds of great defense. His numbers for the period: 4 points, 9 rebounds (3 offensive), 4 steals and 2 blocks. He was that guy the Hornets desperately needed to step up and make a defensive stand after the Mavs had poured in 69 points on 67 percent shooting in the first half. Okafor was quick with his outlets too, hurrying the ball into Marcus Thornton’s hands and allowing the rookie to unleash some of that funky fury on the break.

Okafor started the fourth quarter making the same impact, grabbing three rebounds (two offensive) in two minutes. And then… he was gone: benched in favor of James Posey for the rest of the game, a move brought to you by the letters W, T and F.

Now we’ve seen Jeff Bower keep Okafor off the floor down the stretch several times already this season, and much more often than not there has been a good reason for such a move. (Usually it’s because Okafor is having trouble defending the high pick and roll.) But tonight, I can’t for the life of me see the logic in it. The Mavs weren’t dragging Okafor out high. He was being left under the basket and happily doing his shot-blocking, pass-deflecting, glass-cleaning thang.

It’s not like Posey was on some superstar ish either, since Dirk was quite content to back him down, turn and fire home clutch jumpers. Granted, not much any defender can do about that, but I would have loved to have seen David West trying to handle Dirk down the stretch while Okafor was reinserted into the middle to do more goodness. If that had happened, you know Brendan Haywood would have been less likely to get those two back-breaking offensive rebounds.

SMH, as Julian Wright would tweet.

Other notes and observations:

  • It’s a damn shame Collison had those two late, costly turnovers, because he was killing the Mavs all game. He finished with 35 points on 15-of-21 shooting, keeping the Hornets from falling into complete oblivion in the first half and knocking down big jumpers in the fourth to keep the building anxious.
  • Interesting though that the Hornets started getting back into this one when Collison was on the bench. As noted, Okafor was a massive reason why, but we also saw Thornton be very dangerous in the point guard role in the open floor. As long as he doesn’t have to run the halfcourt offense, he’s an assassin.
  • Dirk had made 43 free-throws in a row before he missed one tonight. What a loser.
  • Rough night for West and Stojakovic. West saw a lot of double teams and rarely got a clean look, but he did show respectable effort for the second straight game. As for Peja, he just missed a bunch of open looks.
  • While the Mavs also imploded in this one, I gotta say that they’re a scary team right now. They’ve got the weaponry to play great halfcourt and fastbreak basketball, they’ve improved defensively, and they’ve got a great closer in Nowitzki. When Dampier comes back, they’ll have a great 9-man rotation that should go far in the playoffs.
  • Is it just me, or do the Hornets get called for a defensive three-second violation every time they try to spring a zone on the opposition?

So that was the figababa. Segababa back in New Orleans tomorrow against the Spurs. Nothing worth having ever comes easy.

UPDATE: Game highlights…

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