The Hornets beat the Bucks

Published: November 26, 2009

A complicated game tonight, with lots of shades of gray. Practically every Hornet had multiple highs and lows against the Bucks, but came good down the stretch to get the win in overtime, 102-99 ( box | recap ).


Winning Ugly

After the game, Jeff Bower talked about how good teams can still win even when they shoot poorly and turn the ball over aplenty. The Hornets certainly did that tonight. They shot just 21.7 percent from the field in the first half, 36.6 percent for the game and turned the ball over 23 times. Balancing that out was a strong effort on the glass (61-49 Hornets advantage), and a solid night at the free throw line (28-of-31).

Darren Collison vs. Brandon Jennings

There wasn’t much to the rookie point guard match-up in the first half, with Jennings in foul trouble and Collison struggling with three turnovers. But the battle got heated down the stretch. Jennings looked to be on a mission to close it out when he scored or assisted on 8 of the final 10 Bucks points in regulation. Collison was right there to match him though, hitting a late layup and nailing the three to force overtime.

In OT, it was Collison coming out on top. His customary full-court pressure resulted in some free throws after pouncing on a Jennings fumble in the backcourt, and then DC would cross up his counterpart in the final seconds to get down the lane and earn another trip to the line. Great experience for Collison to be out there making big plays on offense and holding his own against Jennings defensively. Final numbers:

Collison: 18 points, 5-12 FGs, 8 assists, 7 boards, 2 steals, 5 turnovers.
Jennings: 14 points, 4-15 FGs, 8 assists, 7 boards, 4 steals, 5 turnovers.

I was impressed with Jennings’ game overall, even though he had a rough shooting night. I expected him to be more of a chucker, but he rarely forced a shot and didn’t dominate the ball.

Forcing Overtime

The Hornets had the ball, down three with 7.5 seconds left. Out of the timeout, I expected to see Posey, Peja and Thornton coming onto the floor, giving the Hornets plenty of guys who can hit the three. Instead, Bower/Floyd opted to roll with the following unit: Collison, Peja, Songaila, West and Okafor. Note that Peja is the only real three-point threat in that group. When the whistle blew, Peja come off a double screen and faded to the far corner (and that would have been a tough catch and shoot if the ball had been thrown to him). Collison took the inbound, came off a high pick and hit the pull-up, with Luke Ridnour getting a decent challenge on the shot.

Bower admitted after the game that Collison shooting a three off the pick was one of the “back-end” options on that play. I can’t imagine what the other options were, besides trying to run Peja off another screen or two.

I’m just glad Collison hit that shot and we don’t have to worry too much about the what-if’s.

David West

Like most of his teammates, it took West a while to get going. Midway through the third quarter he was shooting just 1-of-9 from the field, which included a couple of point blank misses. But he more than made amends by shooting 8-of-10 the rest of the way, finishing with a season-high 27 points to go with 10 rebounds and 5 assists.

West often gets accused of being a little lazy out there on the floor, but that certainly wasn’t the case tonight. He battled hard for post position all game, and it was nice to see his teammates keep feeding him in there. Defensively, the Hornets did a nice job on hedging hard on Jennings when he came off a pick and not letting him roam down the lane. West was often the help defender in those situations, most notably the last play of regulation when the Bucks failed to even get a shot off.

Marcus Thornton

Marcus Thornton brought his usual energy and aggressiveness, but he just didn’t have it working tonight. He shot 1-of-5 for four points and also committed four turnovers. He ended up playing just 20 minutes, mostly due to foul trouble.

James Posey

Great hustle from Posey tonight. He played some nice D considering he was usually matched up with a faster opponent due to the small lineups the Bucks frequently ran with. He was credited with just one steal, but I recall him getting a hand on the ball several times. He also scored 9 points, grabbed four boards and delivered a nice playoff foul on Ridnour right before halftime.

Emeka Okafor

A great presence on defense tonight, finishing with 8 points, 13 boards, 3 blocks and 2 steals in just 26 minutes. Offensively, the Hornets rarely look to him in the low post, meaning most of his shots come from offensive rebounds. He still looks like he’s going through some struggles getting familiar with his teammates and vice versa.

Might be worth keeping an eye on his minutes going forward, as he played just 14 minutes Sunday in Miami and didn’t play at all in overtime tonight.

Ike Diogu injury update

I spoke with Diogu before the game, asking about the rumors that he might be out for the season. Not the answer I wanted to hear: “That’s a possibility.” He said he’s doing what the doctors are telling him, taking it a couple of weeks at a time. He’s been going to every practice, walking through the offense, working on his core. After speaking with him though, I really don’t get impression that he’ll be back any time soon. I’m thinking January at the earliest.

Some quick bullets to finish it out:

  • Luke Ridnour played a great game. He was aggressive, ran the offense nicely, and hit his open looks. He also played some great defense on Peja and Thornton.
  • The Hornets were constantly looking to free Peja on offense but he didn’t end up with many open looks. He finished with just 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting.
  • David West’s combined first half shooting the last four games: 6-30.
  • Morris Peterson sighting. He played a couple of minutes in the first quarter and a couple more in the second. He ended up forcing a couple of shots (one late in the shot clock) and contributed nothing else.
  • The Hornets biggest lead of the game was 3 points.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hornets back in action Sunday in Sacramento.

UPDATES: Game highlights…

Jeff Bower’s comments post game…

An excerpt from Mr. Kennedy’s post-game Journal report:

Bench was very productive for MIL: Ridnour had 23 points and 10 assists, Hakim Warrick had 22 points and 10 boards, and Michael Redd, in his second game back off the bench coming back from a knee injury, had 11 points.

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