Hornets Destroy the T’Wolves
Heading into an all too early off-season, the Hornets, and their fans specifically, needed something positive. In the final home game of a disappointing year, the Bees whooped on the T’Wolves and gave the home town crowd something to cheer about, winning 114-86, equaling the largest margin of the season.
Sporting a lead of over twenty for the majority of the second half, the Bees looked at ease. Although the team had been expected to win this one, the margin of victory was a relief for a fan base that used to requiring buzzer beaters to beat even the most mediocre opponents.
Okafor Shows Up
Well, it took all year, but the fans finally got exactly what they wanted from what was heralded as the biggest off-season acquisition. He ran the pick and roll well, was extremely active on both the offensive and defensive boards, and most importantly just seemed to want it more than his opposition. Early on he effectively banged bodies with Jefferson, and got the better of it. He, along with West, really set the tone for the team early..
Defensively he controlled the paint, provided good help defense, and although he wound up with only a single block, was effective in forcing shooters to change their shot. It’s the kind of interior defense that the Bees thought they would be seeing more of heading into the season. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come, or perhaps this is what happens when you play the T’Wolves.
Emeka would finish the night with a tidy 23 points on 11-14 shooting, 7 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal.
He Is Who We Thought He Was
Nothing, and I mean nothing, Julian Wright does surprises me anymore. When he’s at his best, he can guard just about anyone of any size and has the explosiveness and athleticism to bring a crowd to it’s feet. At his worst he’s the guy on the court with the lowest basketball IQ, a turnover machine desperately looking for any bad shot he can find.
Most nights though? He’s a bit of both, and although tonight was one of his better nights, there were still sights of his worse half. The put-back slams, and tough on the ball defense were nice, as they always are. The active rebounding and cutting was a considerably better than we are used to, but still he cheated off his man looking for steals, and took one of the most ill advised shots in recent memory, a 12 foot off balance, one handed, fall away jumper, resulting from the spin move that has become am unnecessary staple in his offense.
When he sticks to the fundamentals he can be a useful player, but all too often he gets fancy and the team suffers as a result. All in all though, this was one of his best games of the year.
Rambis Hits the Road
With just over nine minutes left in the second quarter, Al Jefferson pulled a good pump fake on Gray (whose seems considerably less foul prone recently). When Gray left his feet, Jefferson ducked under him, losing his grip on the ball briefly off Gray’s knee. He recovered quickly for an easy two point bucket, but was called for a travel by the ref near center court, who was literally shielded from the play by 500 or so pounds of center. Rambis was furious, and the result was two separate techs by two refs in the 15 seconds that followed.
Tough way to get tossed. I couldn’t hear what was said, but I doubt it was printable.
Thornton continued his cold shooting, but was otherwise his usual awesome self. Aside from his 0-5 performance from behind the line, Buckets was all over the place, running point, dishing a few sweet assists and attacking the hoop like a man on a mission. He’s starting to get to the line more and more, but still seems to get shafted by the refs. He repeatedly looked to them in disbelief. It won’t be too long before he gets the calls that other stars get, or the recognition either. His ability to put the ball in the basket defies all odds.
And might I add, what a gentlemen. With 2:25 left in the fourth quarter he made an off balance running bank shot while being fouled. After he fell into the press table, using my monitor to keep his balance, he took the time to give me back a piece of paper that he had inadvertently knocked off the table. Good stuff.
Darren Collison dropped 17 points, 11 assists, 5 boards, and 6 turnovers. Just the usual for one of the hardest working rookies in the game.
David West plays with fire. Period.
His passing has improved so much in the last year, and tonight was no different. West feeding the rookies inside has to be one of my favorite things to watch.
10 points on six shots, 12 boards, 7 assists and a single turnover. He battled hard all night, tangling with a feisty Brian Cardinal more than once.
- Before the game, Bower was asked to comment about the alleged sale of the team, and his tenure with Bower. “Speculative”.
- VERY odd end to the game with the Wolves choosing to trap with 15 seconds left despite being down 26. After Posey called a timeout, Thornton made them pay and drove the hoop, taking a flagrant foul in the process. I doubt Rambis would have let something like this go down. Ramon Sessions confuses me.
- A post game video including music from a high pitched female female known as Miley Cyrus (Uphill Battle) brought some perspective to the year. In the NBA things aren’t always about today, and it’s rare that a championship team can be built so quickly. The Hornets do appreciate their fans and obviously make every effort to improve.
- After the video was over, the Hornets gave their shoes and shooting shirts to longtime season ticket holders. Pretty funny stuff. Does anyone really want Aaron Gray’s stinky shooting shirt? Given that he’s well over a foot taller and 150 pounds heavier than the person who won it, they certainly can’t wear it. Would you hang it on a wall? Do you have a wall large enough?
With the home win tonight the team moved to 24-17 on the year. Not too shabby considering they lost their best player for half the season.
UPDATE: Game highlights from NBA.com…