Hornets Outlast the Thunder

Published: January 24, 2011

Not so tough are you now, huh Baby?

The Hornets beat the Oklahoma City in an instant classic, 91-89 behind late game heroics from Chris Paul and David West. Paul came up with a steal with 10 seconds to go that allowed David West to take a game winning shot in the closing second, which he calmly nailed. It was a bittersweet victory, however, as Paul appeared to injure his ankle on the steal. He was noticeably limping in the aftermath, and did not take the floor on defense when OKC had their last possession with .5 seconds to go.

Oklahoma City came out with a lot of energy early, likely in an effort to avoid becoming the third team slaughtered by the Hornets consecutively. As soon as David West picked up his second foul only a few minutes into the game, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a Hornets blowout. Instead, the Thunder threatened to pull away early.

Fortunately for the Hornets, Marcus Thornton played well as soon as he touched the floor (as he often does at home), scoring eight points on six shots to fuel the Hornets bench. If not Thornton’s offense, Chris Paul would have had to come back on the floor much earlier than he did, and the Hornets would have had a much larger hole to crawl out of.

Also, Quincy Pondexter and DJ MBenga were eating up boards. MBenga in particular has looked a lot better of late, and is making the gaping hole on the bench look less, well, giant. All in all the Hornets dominated the second quarter, outscoring the Thunder 31-12, and taking a 50-45 lead into halftime.

Ariza was playing some poor defense early on Durant. He wasn’t fighting through screens, left him open repeatedly, and just didn’r seem to realize that he was guarding one of the most dangerous wingmen not only in the league, but in the history of the league. There are some nights when he just doesn’t seem to care all that much on defense, and tonight was one of them. It’s what keeps him from being considered an elite defender. The second half was exactly the opposite. He was awesome.

The second half started with a very angry crowd. As call after call seemed to go against the Hornets, the boos grew louder and louder. I even heard the rare “bull$@#^” chant, which is normally reserved for Saints games, and repeated calls of “cheaters”. Despite the calls (which didn’t seem as bad to me as they did to the rest of the crowd), the team managed to hold on to a slight lead in the first six minutes of the third quarter. Given their four turnovers and a three second violation, it could have been a lot worse.

The teams would trade points the remainder of the quarter, and even though the Hornets were missing more than their share of free throws, they would start the fourth quarter tied at 71.

After five minutes of uninspired ball by Jack, Green, and Pondexter, Coach Williams made the move and replaced them with Paul, Thornton, and Ariza. That lineup would play the Thunder to a dead heat until 3:00 to go in the fourth quarter, and then it was crunch time. Down two, the Hornets had a bad possession, which was followed by a brick by Oklahoma. David West then knocked home a jumper, tying the game.

Another brick by Oklahoma, and the Hornets had the ball. Despite a strong move to the hoop, Marcus wasn’t rewarded with either points or a whistle. On the other end, Westbrook jumped 12 feet in the air over Paul (who didn’t box out properly), and gave the thunder a two point lead on a tip in. West answered on the other end with a jumper and the score was tied at 89 with 57 seconds left.

After a two shot possession by the Thunder that resulted in zero points, Thornton missed a jumper on the other end that would have given the Hornets the lead. A defensive rebound by Oklahoma City gave them the ball with 14 seconds left and the game tied.

Again the crowd made noise. They were rewarded by a huge Chris Paul steal (who else?), but it wasn’t all gravy. Paul seemed to injure his ankle on the play and when he did eventually get up, he was noticeably limping. I’ll try to get an update after the game.

Back to basketball- Ten seconds left, Hornets ball. Last time against the Thunder they went to David West repeatedly as the game drew to a close. Durant shut him down then, but tonight they went with Serrge Ibaka. BAD MOVE.



Game Notes

  • The defensive rotations tonight were a far cry where they were in the last two games. The thunder took open layup after open jumper, and the Hornets just sat by and watch for most of the game. Scott Brooks’ offense had the upper hand on Monty’s defense tonight for most of the game.
  • Samuel L. Jackson, Bobby Jindal and Mitch Landrieu were in the house, continuing the streak of famous people courtside.
  • The Thunder tried to use Krstic to trap Chris Paul a half a dozen times or so throughout the game. It wasn’t particularly effective, mostly because Krystic is so unathletic that he can’t really do anything except get in Paul’s way a little bit.
  • Speaking of Krstic, Okafor had a very tough night against him.
  • Speaking of Okafor, he had his best dunk as a Hornet, and his block with just over nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter was pretty sweet.
  • When Hugo got hurt riding a scooter, it was pretty hilarious that the paramedics helped the scooter instead of him. Everyone knew it was coming, but like a pie to the face, it was funny nonetheless.
  • Attendance was announced at 17,233, an official sellout for some reason that I don’t quite understand.
  • Chris Paul passed Larry Johnson for fourth place on the Hornets all time scoring list
  • The Hornets are now 20-1 when their opponent scores less than 90 points. 18 of those games have been at home. Beefense, anyone?
  • Hornets are third in the West.
  • Hornets have won nine in a row
  • Hornets are awesome.

Nation, meet New Orleans.

(update- right now on ESPN, the Hornets are the lead basketball story)

Monty’s Postgame

  • He started off discussing how the team sticks together, even when things don’t go there way early. That’s something that is visibly apparent this year.
  • He adressed players getting bumps and bruises, specifically Chris Paul because of his playing style. It doesn’t seem as though Paul’s injury is anything serious (knock on wood).

Player Quotes

  • West speaking about the game winner- “I wanted to get the last shot and get it off to where they couldn’t get a good look on the other end. I told coach in the huddle just give it to me I saw CP was out and he’s the guy we usually go to in this situation. I just felt like I could get us a shot.”
  • West on the physical play- “They are a young, feisty team. They got us out of rhythm early. We stayed resilient, we stayed in the fight and it feels good to get a win.”
  • West on the winning streak- “We’re staying together. We’re focused and listening to coaches during time outs and executing the game plan. We have a big road trip coming up , and we didn’t want any slippage. We just want to go out there with a good taste in our mouth.”
  • Thornton on the streak- “It feels great. It feels good to be on a nine-game winning streak. The beat the quality of tams we’ve beaten makes it that much better.”
  • Thornton on the physical play- “It was physical top to bottom. From the guards to the big men, thy are a physical team. I’m just proud of our guys that we fought with them.”


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