The Hornets beat the Warriors

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Published: March 9, 2010

The Hornets managed to eke out a win tonight against the vastly undersized Warriors, keeping alive their slim hopes of reaching the playoffs.  West and Okafor routinely took advantage of a rare game where they could outmuscle the opposition and reeled in 11 offensive rebounds between them.

The game itself was decidedly not a typical Hornets game.  Even with Collison running the point, the Hornets are only slightly above the league average at pace, so a 135-131 score would normally require a 2-overtime game.  Tonight, however, the Hornets ran willingly, got the ball quickly inside, and took quick shots.  They also kindly gave up lots of quick, easy shots to the Warriors, making it a fast and furious sort of contest.

Still the Hornets built a couple nice leads, and it was only a furious three-point barrage by the Warriors that let them come back and take a lead near the end.

Marcus Thornton

I’m having a hard time containing myself about Marcus Thornton.  Multiple times during game, I watched him score off a broken play, back-door cut, or explosive drive and swore to myself that THAT play perfectly embodied exactly what Marcus Thornton is all about.  Then the next one would come and I’d be left silently chortling and amazed.  He has what scouts refer to as “a nose for the ball” and its perfectly true.  He kept coming up with offensive rebounds, bad passes, tipped dribbles – basically anything that was in his vicinity that could be considered a 50-50 ball.

In the fourth, his drive to get the Hornets within one was the play I decided actually was the quintessential Thornton play.  It started with an explosive drive to split a double team.  At about the elbow he tucked the ball like a halfback, knifed between two players coming to help, took a hip from the one under the basket, and displaying startling strength and balance, exploded to the far side of the basket and flipped up a difficult reverse layup.

Fantastic.

James Posey

Posey had a couple nice plays in the game, including a big three pointer from the corner.  That’s the last nice thing I can say about him for the game.  I don’t like spending an entire section blistering a player, but I was to the point I was literally swearing at him from my couch.

Midway through the fourth, when the sharpshooting Anthony Morrow drilled three three-pointers in a row, he was Posey’s man, and Posey hadn’t tracked him at all.  Each time, Morrow ran off a simple screen, and Posey didn’t even TRY to follow him.  Instead, he stayed on the screening player.  Now, that wouldn’t be so bad if West or Songaila had been switching with him, but they weren’t.  They also gave no indication that they thought they should be either.  So Posey left Morrow open again, and again, and again.  And he hit each one, heating up to the point that when Songaila did twice get stuck out on him on the next possessions, he was able to drill it with little hesitation.

Later, Posey further endeared himself to me by driving with no where to go on a key position and then throwing the ball so far towards the baseline that Thornton had no hope of catching the thing inbounds.  A play later he broke a swing pass to take an off-balance three pointer from the top of the key when Thornton was wide open in the corner.(Maybe we should be glad he didn’t try to pass?)  Happily that last one was cleaned up when the Warriors couldn’t handle the rebound and Thornton(of course) came up with the ball and a quick two points.

Now – I don’t think Posey is completely useless.  He won a couple games for us this year, and can still play savvy basketball, but as a small forward required to drive a little and guard speedy wingmen he is a major, major liability.

Other Observations

  • Jeff Bower made a gutsy call tonight, as he had the Hornets foul the hot-shooting Warriors with the Hornets up 3.  The warriors hit their two free throws, and the Hornets hit theirs, and since the Warriors had no timeouts left and only 7 seconds, they had to rush their last shot.
  • Collison was a perfect game manager, taking the shots he was given and otherwise getting the ball into West, Okafor and Stojakovic in position to score.  His defense was also some of the best I’ve seen him play.  He was hounding Stephen Curry mercilessly and rarely allowed him more than a few inches of space to launch his jumpers.  At the very end of the game I think he was a little tired as I saw him twice take the easy way of going under screens, but when it came time to inbound the ball for last shots by the Warriors, he could not be shaken, even by tough screens.
  • Okafor had a nice 22 and 11.  I’d like to get really excited about that, but he was a man among boys playing against that Warriors front line.  He simply muscled his way wherever he wanted.
  • The rebounding advantage for the Hornets: 44 to 23.
  • Peja Stojakovic left the game with a groin strain.  I saw him gripping his shorts in pain at one point, and I was just praying it wasn’t his back again.  I also can feel some solidarity with him, because I too strained my groin this weekend.  Of course, he did it doing something cool like playing NBA basketball, and I did it trying to keep from tripping over my own feet while teaching my son to ride his bicycle.  So, uh, maybe I’ll just stop talking about groins now.
  • Morris Peterson hit four threes.  The Hornets won.  Mo Pete, Bellewether.

Next game is Wednesday in Oklahoma City.  Have a good night.

UPDATE: Game highlights, and some rookie love in NBA.com’s top 10 plays from Monday…

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