The Jazz beat the Hornets

An oft-spirited, oft-inconsistent game by the Hornets tonight. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The first half was fast-paced and the teams matched each other blow-for-blow, balanced scoring for both clubs. The third quarter was where the Hornets lost it, as the Jazz flipped the switch to playoff mode and raced out to a 20-point lead. The Bees chipped away in the fourth and got it back to within 6 down the stretch, but Utah had too much execution to be denied. Kyle Korver’s triple with 1:54 was the back-breaker, James Posey leaving him to help out on the Boozer-Williams pick and roll.

114-103 the final score.

Deron Williams vs. Darren Collison

Darren finished with 28 points and 7 assists, Deron with 27 and 16. Williams seemed to dominate the match-up, able to use his size and speed to give Collison problems at both ends. The third quarter was the most lopsided, with D-Will going off for 14 points and 4 assists, and that effort really changed the game. Williams got to the basket when he wanted, pushed the rock, finished in traffic when he had to, found the open man when the help came, and just really picked the Hornets apart. Not a happy time for DC.

Collison would redeem himself a little by being relentless in the fourth quarter and helping the Hornets get back in it. Lil’ Scrappy.

Marcus Thornton

A rough game for the Hornets other rookie. He started and finished well, but there wasn’t much good in between. Reminded me of the movie Saving Private Ryan.

Filling in at point guard might have knocked Marcus off his rhythm, especially since he had to go against a guy like Williams, who can and did match his physicality and aggressiveness.

Thornton was also a big part of the Hornets scrappy comeback attempt in the fourth quarter. The highlight was probably him grabbing his own missed layup between four Jazz defenders and somehow squeezing it back up and in.

Other notes and observations

  • Utah put the clamps on David West. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but it was one of those games where it looked like he was giving it everything and getting little in return. Paul Millsap did a great job bodying up on him and making his drives tough, and there was always a helping hand there to make things tricky when West tried to put the ball on the floor. Also, has anyone else noticed that West rarely gets those open 17-footers anymore? The vast majority of his baskets have been coming from drives or post ups the past few weeks.
  • James Posey was dialed in from deep, knocking down 4-of-5 triples. He also had a few nice defensive plays, expect of course when he left Korver wide open that time.
  • Something that crossed my mind during the game: with Louisiana man Gary Chouest expected to buy out George Shinn and become the owner of the team, do you think he might consider changing the name?
  • The Hornets shot 10 free throws in the first quarter, but only 14 thereafter. They finished 17-24 overall.
  • The discipline of the Jazz is always impressive to me. Rarely a broken play. They’re great at pulling back out and resetting the offense quickly. Their cuts and passes on the interior are quick and effective. I’d root for them in the playoffs except, well, they’re the Jazz.
  • I think Okafor is much more effective playing for a good team. Back when the Hornets were rolling in January, I couldn’t have asked for much more out of him. But when CP went down and the team started struggling, he was asked to do more and couldn’t really deliver. He’s definitely better suited to being a complimentary piece, and by that I mean he shouldn’t be one of the top three players on a contending team, because you don’t have a contending team if that happens.

Just two more games left for the Hornets in the season. Sunday at 6 will be the final home game, against the Timberwolves. Then it all comes to an end Wednesday in Houston.

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