The Hornets edged the Grizzlies

Another game down to the wire in New Orleans Arena, and since it was in New Orleans, it ended up a win.  The Grizzlies had a few mental errors at the end (That lob play at the end was TERRIBLE, and putting rookie Carroll on Posey?  Really?) and the Hornets capitalized on them like the veteran crew they are.

Still, the Grizzlies bigs, despite giving the feeling that they were pounding the Hornets, only outscored the Hornets by 8 and actually lost the rebounding battle by 5, 22-17.  You read that right.

The real difference tonight was the benches.  The Grizzlies got almost nothing from anyone except Tinsley on their second unit, and four of their starters ended up played 40 minutes or more.  The Hornets on the other hand got good contributions from the bench, getting 37 from the second unit, including at least six points from each of the five players off the bench who played.

Chris Paul

I was feeling like Paul was having a rough night early in the game.  A good half-dozen times he picked up his dribble after a drive before finding someone to pass to – essentially having trusted his teammates to get open for the pass.  He then ended up passing out to someone on the perimeter for a contested shot, having gained no advantage for his team.   I credit the Grizz defense for that – they were really sticking to their cutters.  Then, of course, came the second half, and more specifically, the fourth quarter.  As trottsta said in the Game On thread:

I just want to point out CP’s clutch performance with 5 mins to go in the 4th

4:18 Paul makes pull up shot
3:49 Paul assists Peja’s 3 pointer
3:29 Paul assists Thornton’s layup
2:57 Paul makes pull up shot
2:35 Paul makes layup (Assisted by Peja)
1:21 Paul assists West’s layup
0:48 Paul makes step back jump shot
0:17 Paul hits two free throws

That’s 10 points on 4 shots and 3 assists… I love that guy

Agreed.  Oh – and did anyone notice that on the last three posessions for the Grizzlies, Paul was taking Rudy Gay?  And the only shot Gay managed was that twisting, off balance three-pointer?  Yeah, it went in, but I’ll live on a guy getting 1 shot in three posessions – and that shot an off-balance one.

Oh, and he finished with a mere 21 points on 14 shots, 6 rebounds, 13 assists, and 4 turnovers.  No steals.  C’mon Paul, where’s the effort?

David West

It’s a little sad when it qualifies for special attention, but David West did a damn fine job tonight.  He was scrapping for rebounds, showed hard on a bunch of screens, particularly in the fourth, and came up with a big strip of Gasol at the end.  Offensively, though, I think the Grizzlies played right into the Hornets hands in the way the defended West.  West is so comfortable with his jumper, if you give him a little room, he’ll take it.  Despite his prowess from the mid-range, that is still an inefficient shot.  Tonight, the Grizz refused to give him that room, closing on him hard on every catch.  That meant he would put the ball on the floor, and neither Gasol, Carroll or Zach Randolph were able to slow him when he decided to go to the hoop.  It would have been better to just let him take that mid-range shot.  West is devestating in the paint with a live dribble – which is one of the few things I miss from the Byron Scott era.  Last year, West had a couple sets run for him that would get him the ball at the elbow, so he could make his move into the paint from there.(Ala Dirk Nowitzki)   I always felt that was one of his most effective places to attack from.  I’d love to see that re-appear again.  21 points and 13 rebounds on the night.  Good job, Fluffy.

Rookie Report

What else is there to say about Thornton? 12 points on 8 shots, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 turnovers, 0 fouls, a big and-one basket at the end of the game, and a vital offensive rebound to keep the Hornets within striking distance early in the fourth.  He also played 25 minutes, getting more time than Devin Brown for the fourth consecutive game.  Of course, with the way Devin was shooting, that was a major relief.

Collison had one of his best games in the last month.  His perimeter jumper was still not falling, but he ran the floor like a demon, got easy looks, hit a gorgeous pull up jumper, and played well both with Okafor and Chris Paul when he was on the floor.  He also checked Marcus Williams and Tinsley with flair when he was on the floor, refusing to give them any room to breath.  Just a great pressure defender on ball-handlers.

Other Observations:
  • Zach Randolph deserves an All-Star role as a reserve.  All of his shots were smart and in the flow of the game, and he was a load to handle down low.
  • In the first half, the Hornets starting throwing doubles at Randolph.  They used both Devin Brown and Chris Paul to do it, but Paul was, quite frankly, terrible at it.  He never came hard, doubling Randolph quickly.  Instead he slowly worked his way over there, giving Randolph enough time to see him coming.  Not sure what Paul was thinking there, really.
  • Julian’s spin on Marc Gasol and two-handed flush was very, very pretty.  Julian had some good minutes out there.  Rudy did top Julian’s dunk though with his open-court finishes on the break.  It’s okay, Juju, you’re still closer to my heart.
  • In the fourth, the Hornets played James Posey on Randolph, and it worked out pretty well.  He fought him for every inch of ground, and was happy to foul hard the two times he got knocked out of position on the bigger Randolph.  It was a pretty key impact, almost as important as the layup he hit at the end.
  • Songaila hit a three.  It was his first as a Hornet, which is weird considering how many shots he takes with his foot on the line.  That’s always bugged me a little.  In fact, multiple times this season, I wanted to write a blog post about him entitled “How much can six more inches really matter anyways?” but was scared off by the kind of commentary and traffic I’d get.

The Hornets kick off a four-game road trip Friday against the Timberwolves, followed the next night in Denver.  Have a good night.

Highlights of the Game from

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

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