The Bobcats beat the Hornets

Just when you thought there was no more excitement to be had this season, the Hornets almost pull off the biggest comeback in franchise history. Down 26 in the second quarter with the Bobcats flexing their defensive muscle and Jeff Bower ejected, the Hornets turned this one around by pushing the gas pedal and rolling with the rookies. The third quarter was as well as we’ve seen the team play all season, and it looked like they were headed for a double-digit win late in the fourth, up 8 with 3:44 to play. Credit the Bobcats though for getting their defense working again, getting to the free throw line and riding the hot shooting of D.J. Augustin.

104-103 the final score.

Marcus Thornton

Another one of those games where Thornton seemed to unleash every offensive move known to mankind. Really, all he was missing was a skyhook. He had the mid-range working, he dropped triples, he got out on the break, he took guys off the dribble and finished at the rim… and let’s pause for a second to give that grown-ass man jam over Gerald Wallace the respect it deserves…

… wait, not done yet…

… yeah, that’s about right.

Marcus also managed to dish out two of the better assists of the season for the Hornets, one a cross-court touch pass between two defenders to Morris Peterson on the break, and the other that skimming bounce-pass between three defenders to get Darren Collison a fast break layup.

On the down side, Thornton did have some trouble trying to beat those Charlotte traps when running point and had his work cut out guarding Stephen Jackson, especially in the first half. Something tells me he’ll be a fine defensive player some day though.

Emeka Okafor vs. Tyson Chandler

Neither guy was on the floor down the stretch, with Okafor sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Still, we finally got to see these two guys do battle for some good stretches. Chandler looked healthy and motivated, and that’s all he really needs to be at his best. He was active on offense, coming up with some rebounds and rolling well to get a bunch of dunks. Defensively though was where he really made a difference in the game, putting on a clinic in the second quarter especially. Just ask David West, who was busting his ass trying to shake Boris Diaw only to find Chandler waiting for him in the lane every time. TC finished with 16 points, 10 boards and 5 blocks in 33 minutes; probably the best game he’s had all season.

Okafor paled in comparison. He finished with a quiet 7 points, 9 rebounds and 0 blocks in 23 minutes. Yes, overall, Emeka has given the Hornets more than Tyson would have this season, but the trade really hasn’t worked out as well as I’d hoped it would. Sad face.

Jeff Bower’s ejection

I felt the ejection was warranted, but what I found most interesting was the reaction of the players when Bower was blowing up over on the sideline: none of them seemed to care. Usually you have a player or two come over and try to calm the coach down in those situations, but that didn’t happen tonight. Morris Peterson was the only guy to even get up off the bench, and he promptly sat back down. Chris Paul barely raised his eyebrow. I’m not sure if that says anything about Bower’s relationship with the players, or if it’s simply the way it is when everyone’s waiting for their vacation to start.

Other notes and observations

  • Aaron Gray seemed to give Tyson Chandler more trouble than Okafor did. Several times Gray out-muscled TC to a rebound and Chandler was left frustrated and looking to the officials for help.
  • An off-night for Gerald Wallace offensively, but he had some big defensive plays late, drawing a couple of charges and stripping David West to ensure the Hornets didn’t get another shot up on that last possession.
  • The one big thing the Hornets did to get back in this game was speed everything up. They couldn’t get anything going in the halfcourt, but when they started running the ball more, causing turnovers, outletting quickly, swinging faster, that’s when the game started to change. Fitting that they couldn’t get a good shot off in the halfcourt at the end.
  • Larry Brown refused to call a timeout during many of the Hornets’ big runs, preferring to let his guys figure it out. Ballsy move. Seems it’s a fine line between genius and insanity.
  • Oh, and in case you haven’t already heard, it was announced before the game that Chris Paul is done for the season, sidelined with a torn finger ligament.

Hornets back at it on Friday against the visiting Jazz.

UPDATE: Game highlights and a top 10 from…

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