Published: March 16, 2011
Chris Paul is unconscious right now. I’m not a doctor, but apparently concussions aren’t all bad. He went for 26 points on 9-16 shooting, to go with 9 assists versus 1 turnovers, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals, to lead the Hornets to a 100-95 victory over the Phoenix Suns. This guy is indistinguishable from the one who was the true MVP in 2007-2008. His second half was less than stellar, but when he needed to he controlled the tempo and led his squad to a much needed W against a formidable opponent.
Since the concussion, Paul has gone 31-53 shooting (58.4%) for 86 points, to go with 34 assists versus 5 turnovers, 17 rebounds, and 15 steals. That. Is. Insane. Can we get this man some rest before the playoffs, PLEASE?
Let’s throw this out there right away. With Paul playing like this, there is nobody except the Lakers who shouldn’t be scared of facing the Hornets in round one. Their biggest weakness, depth, essentially goes out the window once rotations are shortened for the playoffs. I was on the Daily Dime Chat most of the night, and I was called a homer, an idiot and worse, but anyone who has watched the Hornets lately knows this team is capable of doing some serious damage this year.
Be afraid Western Conference foes, Be very afraid.
Paul closed out the last 29 seconds of the second quarter on a personal 7-0 run that included a steal and a three pointer with .5 seconds to play. The run turned a 24-29 deficit into a 31-29 lead, and for the first time of the night the momentum was clearly in the Hornets favor.
The energy continued into the second quarter, as the Hornets eventually extended the lead to 10 points by the end of the first half. Chris Paul was why.
With about 30 seconds to go in the first half, Chris Paul got a finger or two on a pass, sending the ball slowly rolling across the floor on the defensive end of the floor. Carl Landry laid out to get it, and immediately passed to Paul. Four seconds later Paul took a three pointer that everyone in the place just knew was going in the basket. After that kind of effort by his teammate on defense, how could he miss?
Speaking of power forwards, David West was absent tonight for the most part. It didnâ€™t matter in the end, but perhaps he needs to shave his head for Saturday. Landry was nice to watch on offense and defense, yet again, but his rebounding is really bad. I wanted to wait until I saw him a couple of times in person to reserve judgement, but heâ€™s just not producing results when boxing-out. He needs to locate his man much earlier and lock him down.
The Hornets led by 12 entering the fourth quarter, and decided that since they were winning, they could just let Phoenix take as many wide open three pointers as they wanted. Bad idea. The worst part is that most of them were wide open. Did nobody read the scouting report on these guys, or did they truly just decide to ignore it throughout the first 8 minutes of the fourth quarter?
As a result of the non-Chris Paul led team struggling, CP3 had to come back in and close this one out. Fortunately he was game, because they Suns were completely willing to let just about anyone else take shots. With less than three minutes left down a half dozen, they dared Okafor to shoot from outside of 5 feet, and he rewarded them once with a poor hook shot before settling down and realizing that his job is not to create out of ISO, but to set screens, rebound and play defense. He had a big offensive bat-out that led to a rebound with 50 seconds left which led to a West score. That essentially sealed the game, something that should could have happened 10 minutes earlier.
- Thereâ€™s a great Marcus Thornton story hopefully on the way. Thorntonâ€™s Thunder (who I sat with for years) got another chance to talk to Marcus yet again before the Sacramento game. Iâ€™m not going to spoil the fun for them to tell it, but hopefully this will be just enough peer pressure for us to get the story straight from the source. Spoiler alert- Marcus Thornton is a great guy, but Iâ€™m sure most of you already knew that.
- Mad props to the Bee-Zanies. Starting with the countdown from the Purple Hornet, they brought energy to the Arena, and a couple of times they really led the crowd in cheers. I canâ€™t wait to see them this Saturday, when my lady friend and one of her friends will be taking their first go-round as members of the exclusive krewe.
- I havenâ€™t said anything about this, but the speedboat races were way better than the seafood races.
- Aaron Gray put in some nice minutes. Heâ€™s never going to blow anyone away, but if he can play like he did tonight, he will find some minutes in the playoffs. I truly believe that they can be successful ones, too.
- Jarrett Jack was off yet again. Heâ€™s looking more and more like a guy who is confused/unhappy in his role. If the team is going to make a splash in the playoffs, they need him to lead when Paul is on the bench. It wonâ€™t be for too many minutes, but they will all be huge.
- Quincy won sub of the game somehow. He played well, but Landry and Gray both played better.
- Jared Dudley nearly destroyed the Hornets.
- Thanks to late fouling in a desperate attempt to overcome a big deficit, the Hornets finished with 100 points and the fans all got free chicken!