The Hornets beat the Bucks

Published: February 28, 2009

Tonight was another one of those games for the Hornets. Our guys got the win, but we come away with more questions than answers.

The Bucks, a team with an 11-21 road record coming in, were without two of their four best players, and they lost another of that quartet when Charlie Villanueva went down midway through the fourth quarter. Still, the visitors managed to overcome a 20-point defecit with less than 13 minutes remaining in the ball game, and actually took the lead on a triple by Charlie Bell with ten ticks left. Luckily, Tyson Chandler was there to tip home a David West miss and steal back the win for New Orleans.

Bullet time:

  • Despite the near-meltdown, there was a lot to like in this one. The rebounding was solid once again (52-41 Hornets advantage). Our off-ball movement was pretty good in the first half, helping Chris Paul rack up 11 of his 20 assists. Milwaukee worked hard to stop the CCC, but we were able to take advantage of that by finding West wide open repeatedly. And when the Bucks adjusted to try stop West, the bridge was open for business. I thought we did a nice job, too, of getting the Bucks out of that zone they settled into in the third quarter. That was giving us problems until Byron called a timeout and opted to put Marks on the free throw line. A few possessions later Milwaukee went back to man D.
  • The Bucks got back in it down the stretch thanks to some hot shooting. They were long overdue a few shots dropping, after they endured many a miss on wide open jumpers and layups for most of the game. Through the first 44 minutes, they shot just 21-of-65 from the field (32.3 percent), then knocked down 8-of-11 in the final four minutes. They just nailing those open looks. I’m at a loss as to explain why we were leaving them so wide open. As my buddy Vern pointed out on the Hornets postgame radio show, the Bucks didn’t have any serious offensive threat down low (especially with Charlie V sidelined), so we should have been able to stick close to their perimeter guys.

  • I liked how the Bucks — Richard Jefferson in particular — responded to their woeful shooting, and that was by driving relentlessly to the basket. They only got 20 free throw attempts to show for it, but it was enough to hold them over until the J’s started falling again.
  • Midway through the first quarter they showed an old picture of a white kid playing baseball on the big screen, and the crowd was asked to guess which Hornet it might be. Tough one.
  • I liked what I saw from David West. He finished with 28 points (11-19 FGs) and 12 boards. I was surprised to find that he had six turnovers, too. Still, he was battling away underneath all night, and his jumper was looking smooth.
  • Tyson was the hero with that game-winning tip-in. He finished with 14 points, 9 boards and a two blocks. I’m guessing his presence was also a large factor in the Bucks missing so many shots in the lane, especially in the first half.
  • Julian Wright started the second quarter again and he gave us a decent five minutes. His lone bucket came near the end of the shot clock when he put together a nice spin-dribble move to get from the three-point line to the basket in a hurry.
  • Sean Marks gave us 6 points, 3 boards and 5 fouls. I’m thinking he might be even better than Tyson at rolling to the hole. He doesn’t have the athleticism to get up high and finish lobs like TC, but he always opens up well off picks and repeatedly sneaks in from the weak side ready for the dish. He finishes nicely in those situations.
  • Something to keep an eye on: how Antonio Daniels uses screens. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t wait for the pick to be set properly before making his move. Not all the time, but quite often.
  • Peja and Rasual were a combined 4-of-15 from behind the arc. Peja was especially cold all game, while Rasual was at least somewhat effective inside the three-point line.
  • A few highs and lots of lows for Posey. He had a number of bonehead plays, like that sloppy pass back up top to Butler and the foot-over-the-line on the inbound. He also missed both his deep looks. He grabbed seven boards though and made up for that pass to Butler almost immediately by rejecting Bell on a fast break.
  • Turnovers and free throws hurt us. We coughed it up 14 times, and only made it to the charity stripe 17 times, knocking down just 11 of those.
  • Interesting how the Bucks played CP. Most teams opt to let Paul have his points at the expense of getting his teammates involved, but Scott Skiles might have had different ideas. Chris dished 9 assists in the first quarter alone, and attempted just three shots in the first half, one of them a desperation heave before the halftime buzzer. He’d finish with 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Weird how I felt better after the loss to the Lakers last week than I do after beating the Bucks tonight. Or maybe it’s not weird at all. Our guys played great basketball in L.A. and were able to come away with their heads held high. Not so much tonight, after almost letting a depleted Bucks team embarass us. I’m just glad ESPN decided not to televise it.

Next up, we’ve got a little road trip East, facing the Nets on Sunday and the Sixers on Monday.

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