The Hornets beat the Heat

Published: December 31, 2009

For the second night in a row, the Hornets built a big lead in the third as one of their all-stars went off, and then promptly collapsed to start the fourth and gave it all away.  Tonight, however, Okafor did not foul out, keeping his strong defensive presence in the paint for the final minutes, helping the Hornets to gut out a win – on their home court, of course.

Dwayne Wade scored an excellent 22 points on only 13 shots, but was also hounded into 6 turnovers and forced to give it up a lot early in the game as the Hornets continuously sent Paul to double him on the catch or Okafor hedged hard on the pick and roll to help contain him. 

Okafor again, see?

Emeka Okafor

Fifteen points and fourteen rebounds for Emeka Okafor to go along with a single(???) block.   He may have only been given one block by the scorekeepers, but he altered a good dozen shots in this game, and was hedging hard on every pick and roll, helping to keep the Heat out of the paint.  He also defended Haslem’s game-tying attempt perfectly, setting West up for his jumper and four free throws to ice the game.

Okafor was also a part of two highlight reel dunks in the game – one a one-handed put back of his own, and the other as O’Neal dunked on his head.  I’m glad he was in both of them, because that means A. He’s getting boards, which the Hornets need desperately, and B. He’s contesting shots, which the Hornets also need desperately.  Oh – and his pick and roll connection with Paul has been improving by the week.  That can’t do anything but help Paul on his drives.

Devin Brown

If I had said at some point earlier this season that I’d be writing a recap highlight section about Devin Brown that didn’t contain the words, “Trade him now or I will throw myself off a bridge” then I’d have been lying to you.   Brown was simply very good tonight.  He provided shooting and drove to the basket under control and only forced two shots once there.  He took advantage of Wade three times as the Heat star roamed for steals, getting easy points in the paint.  His defense on Wade was also very good, shading him towards Okafor, and on the last three Heat possessions, putting enough pressure on Wade that he took three step back mid-range jumpers rather than going all the way to the rim.

If I didn’t know better, I would swear the Hornets traded Devin Brown for someone else.

Collison and Thornton Report

Collison had three unforced turnovers tonight on simple palming and double dribble violations.   It did hurt a bit.   All three occurred as the team set up for a half-court set.   Despite those miscues, he still did a good job initiating the break and getting out and putting pressure on the Heat.  His dunk on the break was gorgeous.  I love seeing little guys get up and put it home, and he did it with style, throwing it down with both hands.  It was necessary for him to do that too, because Wade was sizing him up to block his layup.  Good recognition by Collison.

Marcus Thornton and Songaila were the go to guys in the half court sets for the second unit, but Thornton struggled to get free from his defender.  When Thornton did get free enough to receive the ball, he typically hesitated a moment before attacking, allowing the defense to close off his options, and resulting in some forced jumpers.  He’s got to be more immediately decisive like he was earlier in the season.

Other Observations:

  • Chris Paul took over the third.  His rip of Haslem and subsequent and-one on the break was vintage Paul.  Following it with the crossover that sent Anthony to the ground and that little fading baseline jumper was just mean.    All four of his steals tonight were also of the linebacker variety, where he simply slapped or tore the ball away from the ball-handler.   I do have to say this, though – I’m not digging the Abe beard.  Kinda scraggly. 
  • Peja Stojakovic had a bad game, as he once again was forced into some bad shots and missed a couple open looks.  He also tweaked his back in the fourth – and there was no contact on the play, which is really bad.  He was hobbling afterwards.  I don’t expect this to be good news.
  • Daequan Cook of the Heat helped the Hornets tremendously.  He broke two plays to take bad jumpers, and jacked up a couple threes early in the shot clock late in the game.  Not a high basketball IQ there.
  • David West had another strong game tonight.  The energy he showed in Houston was there again tonight.  Yes, he had some slow rotations, but I’m not going to complain if he actually works on the boards and spends at least half his offensive possessions driving towards the basket, rather than falling away from it.  His jumpers in the fourth were soft as hell.  Fluffy-bunny soft.
  • James Posey was bad.  I may have mentioned this before.   The Heat attacked him early in the fourth, forcing him to switch onto Dwayne Wade, and then abusing him.
  • Songaila is money with his feet set – and he’s an amazing finisher close the basket.  If only the Hornets had a rebounder to put next to him on the second unit, they’d have a solid set of subs.

Next game is Saturday against the Houston Rockets.  Vengeance?   Possibly, it’s on the Hornet’s home floor.

Have a good night.

Video Highlights of the game from

UPDATE: Check Mr. Kennedy’s post-game Journal report.

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