The Suns beat the Hornets

Published: March 15, 2010

The Hornets kicked off their road trip in Phoenix tonight, and despite pulling off the rare feat of shooting 17 more times than their opponent due to their 9 more offensive rebounds and 5 fewer turnovers, still lost by 14.

The problem hasn’t changed.  It’s been there from the start of the season.  The defense as a whole is weak.  The guards frequently lose their guy on the perimeter, and the interior defender either helps and his guy gets an easy dunk or putback, or he doesn’t help and we see a dunk or layup.  Amare took advantage of that tonight, earning 36 points on 17 shots.  Yes, that’s more than 2 points per shot, and he didn’t shoot any threes.  14 free throws do that for you.

Marcus Thornton

Other than West, only Buckets was truly on his game tonight.  What’s more, he looked downright pissed off in the fourth as the team tried to make one last push and failed.  He was gesturing furiously at teammates, directing traffic, attacking aggressively, and threw up his hands in disgust several times when the Suns scored to push the lead out.  I’m a little worried that next year the combined glares of Paul and Thornton might actually kill a teammate who fails to rotate.  A lot of intensity there.

Thornton finished with 28 points on 21 shots, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block.  He got no free throws at all.  Now, considering how often he drives, that may seem weird, but I’m not sure I can argue tonight.  Thornton is the best rookie I’ve ever seen at changing the angle of his release or double-clutching at the basket to get a clean shot off.  That does tend to cut down on the fouls called, since he’s simply making his defender whiff.

David West

West is definitely trying to lead the team.  He’s vocal, he’s working hard, and his defense and energy is again the highest I’ve seen from him all year.  The worst thing that happened was when he got his fourth foul early in the third and went and sat down.  He left the game with the Hornets down 6.  He returned with them down 14.  24 points on 15 shots, 7 rebounds, 2 assist, and 2 steals for West.

The freakish part was he was still pressing and hedging in the fourth quarter, when the Hornets were down 20 – and he was nursing a  faint limp from a twisted ankle he got in the second quarter.  Oh, and the technical foul he got?  Wow.  It didn’t matter game-wise, but wow.

Other Observations

  • We usually see Okafor crack out the free throw line jumper a couple times a game.  It’s not usually a shot I like to see, though he’s not a complete wreck from that distance.  Tonight, however, he let fly about 8 times from mid-range, and surprisingly, he hit a bunch of them.
  • Grant Hill’s spike of Thornton in the second quarter was pretty sick.  For an old guy, he’s still got some serious athleticism.
  • Collison had a quiet game, which I was surprised at.  Steve Nash isn’t exactly known for staying in front of guys like Collison very well.  With Collison not attacking freely, the few times he went under the screen guarding Nash proved very costly.  Nash knocked down the shot, and with only 7 shots matched the scoring output of Collison – who took 14.
  • Julian was decent defensively, and a mess offensively.  For a while, I was fine with his numbers (7-4-2-2-1) until I remembered he did that in 40 minutes.  He needs close to double that production if he’s going to carve out a niche in the NBA.
  • Mo Pete hit some three’s tonight.  That was good.  He also couldn’t drive past Goran Dragic, Steve Nash, and onetime, on a switch when he had Jared Dudley on him.  If you are a guard and you can’t dribble past Jared Dudley, then something is really wrong.

Next game is tomorrow night against the Clippers.  No word if Posey will be back in time for it.  I wonder if anyone would buy the Hornets shutting down Posey for the rest of the season because of “flu symptoms”.

UPDATE: Game highlights from…

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