The Hornets beat the Grizzlies

At halftime, I was about ready to turn the game off and go play Mass Effect 2.  The only reason I didn’t was that I wanted to see if Thornton and Collison could get things in gear in the second half.  By the end of overtime, I was on the phone to my buddy, crowing “Collison took Conley to the Woodshed!”

A 21-point comeback, and two halves that were as consistent as Julian Wright, followed by an overtime that the Hornets couldn’t get a offensive rebound in, and the Grizzlies couldn’t make a shot.

Darren Collison

Where to start.  He took Paul’s rookie record for assists in a game, and scored 17 points on 11 shots, getting a lot of his points from the line.  He suckered Conley into fouling him twice on up-fakes, got into the paint at will against anyone, and fed Okafor the easiest 21 points of his life.   That third quarter was simply a clinic of pick and roll basketball.  Defensively, he was also supremely effective.  Since Conley couldn’t guard him without fouling non-stop, Collison frequently found himself guarding Jamaal Tinsley.  That made him essentially free to roam the floor, lay off the three point line, pack the paint on penetrations, and double when needed.  Oh, and Collison’s dunk in overtime that put the team over the top?  I was bracing myself for a block from behind when I saw Rudy Gay loping along behind him like a wolf.  Instead, Collison put on a burst of speed and dunked it home, sealing the deal.  Perfect.

David West

One night after being a part of a crushingly bad play at the end of the Chicago game, David West was instrumental on two major plays.  Defensive plays, no less.  On the perimeter.  Seriously.  Twice he got his hand on OJ Mayo’s dribble, forcing him into a travel near the end of regulation, and then he poked the ball free for Collison’s dunk on the backbreaker play of the game.

Thank you, Memphis

In the first half, Randolph and Gasol were an unstoppable 14-18 with 6 free throws.  The Grizz played a great inside-out game, and the Hornets were defending like tissue paper in the paint.  In the second half, the Grizzlies went to their two big men for a total of 6 shots.  In fact, the two bigs made more shots on offensive rebounds and tip ins(4) than off of plays run for them. (they went 3-6) 

I’d love to say it was the Hornets defense that changed things – and they did more freely double Randolph, but a lot of it was because the Grizzlies just didn’t stay disciplined and get the ball to the right guys.

Rookie Report

We already touched on Collison, so now we’ll talk about Thornton.  We all knew that he had a bad game on the way.  He’s a scorer, and scorers sometimes have off nights, and I was worried what sort of impact that would have on his game.  Thornton handled it like a champ.  He kept aggressive when his shot was falling, getting to the line a little and, more importantly, crashing the boards for easy putbacks.  So despite a poor 14 points on 17 shots, he also contributed 9 rebounds, including 3 on the offensive glass, making himself useful despite his struggles.  I was also certain that he was going to win the game on that last second offensive rebound in regulation, but he rushed the tip in, thinking he had less time, and it went short.  Still, that he was in position for it was awesome.

Other Observations

  • Paul was animated as usual during the third quarter run. After Collisons big dunk to seal it in overtime, Paul was jumping up and down on his one good leg out to meet him, and give him a wincing hip-bump.(they aren’t chest bumps)  Later, he gave the rookie the same treatment David West gave Okafor earlier in the season after a big play.  Those wacky All-stars, always trying to crack their teammates skulls. 
  • Speaking of celebrations and David West, when Collison threw that ball down, West had been trailing, and he was roaring with triumph at Collison.  As animated as I’ve seen him all season.
  • One note of concern though – Paul was REALLY staying off that knee.  It did not look like something that would go away soon.
  • Peja went 5-15, but still scored 20 due to 7 free throws.  I’ll be honest, the last time I saw Peja shoot 7 free throws in a game was . . . well . . . I don’t think I’ve EVER seen him shoot that many free throws in a game.  (Okay, I went and checked and he took 8 free throws early this season to ice a game.  Before that, the last time he shot that many free throws was last year against, you guessed it, Memphis.  Someone needs to tell them not to foul a jumpshooter.)
  • At multiple points this game, I just wanted a rebound.  Just one, lousy, rebound.
  • Good news for Memphis fans.  Their backup center Thabeet outplayed the Hornets backup center Aaron Gray.  I’m sure that comforts them when they play Sacramento and get to see Tyreke Evans.
  • Julian Wright was painful to watch.  Not as painful as Aaron Gray, but not too far off either.

Have a good night.

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