The Hornets beat the Warriors

Chris Paul goes at Ronny TuriafAfter a hard fought game, the Hornets took until the last 29 seconds to finally close out the Golden State Warriors.  The game was a nail-biter and had my buddy complaining that he was gonna need blood pressure medicine during that final minute.

Before I get to the observations, I first need to declare that the curse is dead!  For all of you who followed us last year, every time I wrote a game recap, the Hornets lost.  Every game.  I could feel the curse just willing us to lose over those last five minutes when our team missed a half-dozen open shots, and fumbled through some really ugly offense, but in the end, it’s power failed, and the Hornets are free!

I want to give props to the Warriors – their defense was energetic and intense.  They wanted this game badly. 

Observations after the jump:

  • Paul opened the game on fire.  He drilled everything he put up for a while – long jumpers, layups, everything.  He ripped off 21 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, and I’m freaking spoiled because I expect that from my team’s point guard.  Crazy.  He did go uncharacteristically cold for a couple of the crunch time minutes, but he hit the huge go ahead layup when he put his head down and went hard to the rack.
  • There was a surprising lack of the high pick and roll in this game.  In a lot of ways, I think Byron Scott played into Don Nelson’s mad schemes.  He kept isolating players on the mismatches instead of just having us run our most effective offense.  It kept the Hornets from their smooth attack.  At one point, to end the second, Byron responded to Don Nelson filling the floor with guards, by sending out his own guards.  In 4 years of watching Scott’s team, I’ve never seen him respond that way to matchups.  It was a little weird.
  • Speaking of Byron – the dude was fired up in the fourth quarter.  Byron doesn’t usually show much emotion, but when Golden State turned the ball over with only a few seconds left, he was leaping up and down and gave Posey five with feeling.
  • James Posey likes to hit people.
  • Peja got an offensive rebound in traffic and hit the putback in the middle of the second quarter.  I hope all of you at the 247 Launch party tipped one back in salute.  Peja played well, though he missed a few wide-open three pointers.  Still, he had two major defensive plays in the fourth, forcing Maggette into a tough shot, and then knocking the ball out of bounds on a pure hustle play.  The dude just doesn’t get enough respect on that end of the floor.
  • Andris Biedrins was great.  He doesn’t have Tyson’s length, but he’s got him in quickness.  Golden State was smart to lock him up to a big contract this summer.  If he can ever fix that free-throw stroke, he’d be damn near impossible to stop.  To echo Niall talking about Desmond Mason three years ago, “He shoots free throws like a retarded camel.
  • Our rotation was interesting.  Byron took Paul out halfway through the first quarter and 2 minutes of the second, and played him the whole second half.  Julian didn’t play, and neither did Ely.  Posey was on the floor during crunch time for Peterson.  Our second unit was fed into the game bit by bit over the end of the first, and we ended it with Hilton, Posey, Butler, Brown and James on the floor.  Unfortunately, our scoring stagnated with that unit out there.  Sigh.
  • A lot of that had to do with Mike James.  He hit some nice spot up threes, but then started taking a lot of long 2’s early in the shot clock.  It was ugly.  After his third, he was pulled.
  • James Posey likes hitting threes.
  • Stephen Jackson killed the Warriors.  We couldn’t have stopped Maggette with a bazooka last night, but during crunch time, Jackson took three after three, and long two after long two.  In the first quarter, those shots were falling, but in the last, they were drawing front rim, which is a sign that a player’s legs aren’t into the shot anymore.  It’s no wonder. Nellie had him play the whole game.
  • I’ve been down on Hilton and Rasual Butler up until now.  Tonight, I liked what I saw from both of them.  Again, Hilton managed to turn the ball over three times(I only remember one) but he was aggressive, had a nasty dunk, and at one point fought off three Warriors in a scrum for the ball.  Butler was setting his feet(he’s got a distinctive foot-setting motion) and nailing deep shots.  Both of them had fairly solid defense.  Very encouraging.
  • James Posey knows just how much grabbing and poking and slapping he can get away with.
  • West was a monster.  The Hornets were down by as much as eleven in the second, and West went to work, bringing the Hornets back before the half.  He only had one set mid-range jumper, and all the rest of his damage was caused on post moves.  He was in such a flow at one point, the Warriors color guy said “And David West cannot miss” as the shot was still in the air.
  • Devin Brown.  7 minutes, 0-1, 1 Foul.  Julian, that’s the sound of opportunity knocking.
  • James Posey is, in short, a likeable Bruce Bowen.

I’ll have some stuff up about tomorrows battle in Phoenix in the morning for your reading enjoyment.  For now, I must go to bed and dream of all those missed Warrior Free Throws and Three Point Bricks that saved us in the fourth quarter.

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