The Sixers beat the Hornets

Sometimes, you just have to make your shots.  The Hornets outrebounded the Sixers by 8, including a 10-offensive rebound advantage, they matched them in turnovers, and fouled less often than them.

The Hornets even finished well on the 31 shots they took at the rim, an unusually high number for them.  It was their bread and butter, however, that let them down.  From midrange, where the Hornets usually hit at a solid rate, the guys went 6-33.  18% shooting on more than a third of your shots.  That’s hard to overcome.  Tonight, a lot of that bad shooting rests with the Hornet’s starting forwards.

Peja Stojakovic & David West

The Hornets opened the game fixated on getting Stojakovic rolling.  In the first quarter, the Hornets had him as the primary option eight times on a series of eleven plays.  Surprisingly, when he put the ball on the floor, good things happened.  When he flared off a pick, caught and shot, the results were bad.  Honestly, that’s always seemed to be the case with Peja.  I’m not sure he’s the best shooter off a hard-charging flare.  If he can set his feet or step into his shot, it’s gold, but if he’s moving sideways at all, things usually end up badly. 

I do wish he’d honestly tried to hit that shot at the end of the game, rather than flailing and hoping for a foul.

West, on the other hand, had his usual difficulty with a quick forward almost his own height, as Thaddeus Young made it hard for him to turn, face, and drive.  As a result, he settled for too many mid-range set shots, and his forays into the paint too often resulted in kickouts that gained no advantage.  Twice the Hornets ran successful cross picks in the paint for him that resulted in him receiving the ball with a foot in the lane.  On both, he made one move and scored.  When they tried running it later in the game, the Sixers perimeter players kept shading down on him, making it hard to get the entry pass angle right.  In the end, West did battle hard on the boards and grab 13, but the 6-17 shooting with 2 free throws was painful.

Marcus Thornton

The Rookie report turns into the Thornton Report tonight as Darren Collison got no run in favor of Bobby Brown.  I’m a bit confused about that, because Collison held of Jrue Holiday as the starting PG for UCLA last year, so you’d think Jeff Bower would have used him against Holiday.  Instead, we got Bobby.  Who played 7 minutes.  And in those minutes the Hornets fell behind 17 points.  That’s right.  17 points in 7 minutes.  In related news, I hear the Hornets need to trade another minimum salary to get under the Luxury Tax.

Ahem, anyways, this is supposed to be the Marcus Thornton report.  First – ignore the box score.  Yes, he shot 4-13 for 10 points.  It doesn’t matter.  He crashed the boards, attacked the basket, and ran the floor like a deer.  When he entered for Devin Brown, the pace of the Hornets game increased dramatically as he took off down court on every change of posession, and Paul, Songaila, and later Julian Wright, ran with him.  His cuts towards the basket kept the pressure on the defense, and I’d swear the 3 offensive rebounds he was credited with should have been 6.  Oh – and in his 22 minutes, the Hornets went up 18.  Nice.  I was a bit grumpy to see Devin Brown return to the game to end the third.  Yes, Iverson had lost him twice in a row – but Brown wasn’t really any better of a defensive option, and at least Thornton was causing offensive damage.

Other Observations
  • I’m trying to figure out Chris Paul.  Since he came back from his ankle injury, he hasn’t been that aggressive trying to score in the first half.  On one hand, I think the fact he’s not looking for his own shot is messing with his ability to finish those shots he does take because they are more afterthought than intention.  On the other hand, I do really like the fact that he’s doing everything he can to get his teammates going before he starts kicking into gear himself.  What do you guys think?
  • Dalembert looked really motivated out there.  I haven’t seen him play like that since his contract year.  And this isn’t a contract year.  I wonder if someone was talking about his momma before the game or something.
  • Julian Wright entered the game and immediately got his hands on the ball and put together two awful posessions, resulting in a near turnover and a forced 1-on-2  shot that hit the side of the backboard.  He didn’t show much else except for a finish on a fast-break alley-oop, but he only got 4 minutes. I wish I could be outraged by those limited number of minutes, but I can’t.
  • Posey had a nice impact on the game, hitting a pair of fall-away last second three pointers and spreading the floor to help the big run in the second.
  • As usual, it was the wing players who punished the Hornets.  Igoudala, Iverson and Thaddeus Young combined to score 48 points on 31 shots.  Anyone else surprised that Peja Stojakovic and Devin Brown aren’t adept at slowing wing scorers?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Next game is Wednesday as the Hornets continue their 5 games in 7 nights stretch this week.  I’ve been meaning to mention this, but the next time the Hornets have more than 1 day of rest between games is . . . February.  During the All-Star game break.  17 straight games.  Fast and Furious.  Brace yourself. Highlights:

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

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