Wizards Beat the Hornets
There really is no excuse for what transpired tonight in New Orleans. Coming off what may have been their best win of the season, and facing a team struggling as much as any other in the league, the Hornets gave away what some (me) had predicted as a sure fire victory. Worst of all was the way it happened.
The Bees were outplayed the entire way. Just over a minute into the game, Morris Peterson scored his third point (of four total in 20 minutes). For the rest of the way they trailed a Wizards team missing four starters. Let me rephrase that. In the closing 46 minutes of play against a team which previously lost 16 straight games and was missing four starters, the Hornets never led. Did I mention this was a home game?
There was some excitement in the closing minutes however, so let’s get to it.
Down by 12 with just over four minutes to go, the Hornets went on a furious rally led by (you guessed it) the rookies (I bet you thought I was going to say CP3). Collison hit a trey, converted a three point play, and had two assists and steal, while Buckets hit a three, a dunk and stole one as well. In the final minute the team forced three consecutive turnovers and it appeared that things might turn around.
Down by two with 15 seconds left, Posey drew a what appeared on the Wizards broadcast as a questionable foul and headed to the line with a chance to tie it. Mr. Clutch never even gave the first one a chance, but made the second. Whoop dee doo!
After fouling Washington, the Hornets found themselves down three points with 13 seconds to go. In this situation you probably want your thee point shooting specialists on the floor, but Bower opted to reinsert David West for Morris Peterson. After an inbound pass, Chris Paul found himself with the ball just outside the three point line. A quick pump fake made his man leave his feet. Perfect right? We’ve seen Paul do this a thousand times. The guy is a master at drawing fouls, especially in crunch time.
Now here’s where things get strange. Instead of jumping into the defender and getting three foul shots and the possible miracle of a four point play, Paul hesitated and picked up his dribble. At the same time, David West came back from inside the paint toward the three point line and unexpectedly received a pass from Paul. With about six seconds left, West, a career 27% three point shooter, let one fly from downtown.
Although West has made one or two of these in the past, he’s probably the last option on this play. Needless to say, he fired up a brick, and without a Hornet near the paint the rebound was easily had by Washington. Game over.
A few questions have crossed my mind since this odd occurrence.
- What is David West doing shooting a three pointer with so much time left on the clock? If there were two or three seconds left, I would understand, but with 6 seconds left, there is still time to reset. That wasn’t a last second shot. All he had to do was give it back to Paul and almost certainly the team would have wound up with something better.
- What is David West doing in the game here? He’s not a three point shooter and two points does nothing. He’s not a great rebounder and didn’t seem like he was specifically in paint for a possible rebound and kick-out. I know he’s been a better passer as of late, but I just don’t see the logic.
- Why was Marcus Thornton completely uninvolved on the play? He didn’t take one step away from his corner. He’s the best three point shooter on the team currently and there isn’t a healthy Hornet I’d rather see taking the shot in that situation. Let Buckets hit buckets.
- Why is Mo-P seeing time if it’s not when we need a three pointer in the closing seconds? I might know the answer to this one.
If anyone has some concrete answers, that would be great. Quite frankly, I’m stumped. My first thought is that the team really misses the X’s and O’s that Tim Floyd brought with him. The crucial play just seemed to mimic the offense that Byron Scott ran in the first nine games of this year and throughout 2008-2009. Paul standing there outside the three point line with the ball, while the rest of the team plays red-light, green-light.
- Paul finished with 8 points on 9 shots, 9 assists, and a single turnover IN 44 MINUTES. Just like before his injury, he continues to be hesitant and passive in the first half, nearly always deferring to teammates regardless of his match-up. Considering that he was by far the best player on the floor, it would have been wise of him to attack. Nine shots isn’t nearly enough and he didn’t attempt a single free throw all game. For a guy who thrives on winning and competition, he just didn’t seem to care too much about winning tonight. I’ve never said that before, but what else can I think when the best guy on the court is less involved than Shaun Livingstone? Maybe he’s just rusty, or maybe I’ve been spoiled by his past brilliance, but tonight was disappointing. One thing I do like is the single turnover. His ability to avoid stupid mistakes is probably the most overlooked facet of his game by the casual NBA fan.
- Okafor brought his D-game today, and by that I mean D-League. I’ve backed him for a long time, but that jumper he shoots is atrocious. I’m happy when it grazes the rim. Defensively he still provides more resistance inside than anyone, which isn’t saying much. The team’s interior defense is atrocious. There isn’t one kind word I can say about it, so I’ll just stop here. You all know the deal by now.
- Aaron Gray continues to be a monster. 12 points on six shots and 7 rebounds in only 12 minutes. The +9 was second best on the team. My only complaint is that he’s slower than a brain-dead sloth and against even moderately quick big men he’s rendered useless on D. On one play in the second quarter it took him longer to lower his arm and turn his body around than it did for Javale McGee to blow by him, run six feet, score, land, have a brewski, and compose a symphony. Most of that is true. In reality, I was the one drinking.
- With each game it becomes harder and harder to root for James Posey. I really do try, as I’m sure we all do. He needs to make those foul shots even if this isn’t the finals. That’s why we paid him so much money to come here. Thinking back, I can recall two game winning plays and two game losing plays now on the year.
- The rookies were solid and pretty much did exactly what is expected of them. Thornton needs to get more touches and Collison still needs to cut down on his turnovers.
Next game is Friday at Memphis.
UPDATE: Game highlights from NBA.com…