Hornets Get Redemption, Beat the Mavs

Published: November 17, 2010

The Hornets avenged their only loss of the season, taking down the Mavs 99-97 behind Marco Belinelli’s strong defense. For the second time in three nights, the Mavs took advantage of a notably slow Hornets start to take a 12-2 lead, but the Hornets would battle back in the second half. The Hornets passed their first real test of the year, but it wasn’t a great win. The team had problems and just like Monday, it could have gone either way.

Dirk got into foul trouble early in the first quarter, and wound up sitting the rest of it, but the Hornets didn’t take advantage. Kidd was all over the place, scoring 9 points on only 4 shots, dishing out 4 assists, and snagging a couple rebounds. The Hornets would wind up switching Marco Belinelli onto him shortly after, and the results were drastically different. Kidd wouldn’t make a field goal while covered by Belinelli, or the rest of the game.

The Willie Green Show

Willie Green single handedly kept the Hornets within striking distance in the second quarter when Paul was off the floor, knocking down jumpers, running the floor, and playing tight defense. At the time, Michael said to me that if the Hornets were to win this game it would be because Willie Green kept them in it, and I agree. He was huge, as he has been all season. When Paul came back in he missed a couple layups in transition, but the idea was nice. His aggression and defensive attitude will continue to earn him minutes.

Jerryd Bayless on the other hand seemed to be trying to let it slip away. His second quarter was one to forget. Although he was credited with two assists and a rebound, he went 0-3 from the floor and was less than adequate defensively. His decision making on the break was absolutely terrible. Both times he elected to keep it himself, even when he was clearly in trouble. If you don’t give it up to your teammates for what should be easy buckets, then when are you going to? He’s just not a real point guard at this moment, and until he/Monty realizes that, he will probably continue to struggle. He came back in in the fourth quarter, and was largely irrelevant. His defense, while passable, hardly qualifies him to continue seeing so much time.

With six minutes left in the second quarter the Mavs went to a zone defense, briefly with Haywood and then with Chandler. Again the Hornets had a hard time finding open looks before the shot clock wound down. It’s going to be interesting to see if other teams can successfully utilize the zone defense against the Hornets going forward. So far it seems to be working.

Pops was on the floor for about 12 seconds before picking up an entirely unnecessary foul (30 feet from the basket) with 16 seconds left in the first half. The Hornets were in the penalty at the time, giving Dirk two totally undeserved free throws. I know rm is going to hate me for this, but that was just an awful play. Monty too him out immediately afterward, and he wouldn’t get a chance to redeem himself, either.

The halftime score was 52-42, and shortly after the buzzer sounded the halftime show (3 dogs) came onto the floor. To quote Michael, “I thought they were bringing them out to take a dump on the court, but no, the Hornets already took care of that in the first half”. The dogs probably missed a higher percentage of Frisbees than the Hornets did shots. Nothing against Frisbee catching dogs, but shouldn’t they actually catch the Frisbees?

David West came out with some intensity after a poor first half, and after hitting his first shot gave an enthusiastic fist pump. He’s not one to take getting whooped on lightly, and clearly wanted redemption. The problem was, he didn’t do it within the flow of the offense. When he got the ball he had one thing in mind- scoring, and that wasn’t working. Tyson is a very tough match for him, and really changes the way these two teams play each other. In the past the Mavs haven’t had anyone who could really check him, but now it’s a different story.

Here’s an example of how smart Chris Paul is, specifically the way that he works the refs. After a couple questionable calls against the Hornets, he just ran down the floor and just made contact with a Mavs player. Of course the refs gave him an easy call, since they had been so generous to the Mavs on the other end. There’s no doubt he knew what he was doing.

Paul continued to set the tone both on offense and defense, getting fired up and causing havoc all over the place. It got LOUD right away. The energy changed and all of a sudden the Hornets were on the attack.

A few seconds later Ariza made a great play to keep a ball from going out of bounds, resulting in a Hornets possession. In the process, though, he barreled into Gary Chouest’s wife. Perhaps because of who it was, he quickly apologized and made sure she was OK before getting back into the play. After Chris Paul drove to the hole and got an and-1 a few seconds later, the crowd was wild.  This contest was talked about as a playoff type game beforehand, and midway through the third quarter it started to feel that way. Dirk was getting booed loudly each time he entered, and the crowd was generally fired up. Aside from the Heat game, this was the best crowd of the year for the Hornets.

Behind a ridiculous Trevor Ariza alley-oop, a thunderous Emeka Okafor slam (no, I’m serious), and a long Ariza three pointer, the Hornets built their lead to 10. The Mavs would continue to battle keeping the lead in the single digits throughout the rest of the quarter behind a strong performance by Dirk (who re-entered with four fouls). At the end of three, the Hornets led 75-69, and the teams were primed for another fourth quarter battle.

The Hornets had no answer for Dirk early in the fourth, and with all of their shots rimming out the Mavs quickly cut the lead to one. Jason Smith was not the answer on defense. Ugly, ugly ugly. Not sure what else to say about that. Of the first eleven points the Mavs scored in the fourth quarter, Jason’s man was responsible for eight of them.

Fortunately David West got under Dirk’s skin, and drew the fifth foul from dirk with nine minutes to go in the fourth. He left for only two minutes, and wound up coming back in, but he was noticeably less aggressive on defense.

Again, Willie Green took it upon himself to be the Hornets offense with Chris Paul off the floor, creating where nothing was, and just being generally awesome. Have I mentioned how he might be my new favorite player?

Back to West- He didn’t play well again tonight, but is there anyone in the league who Dirk hates as much as him? Their feud goes back to the playoff series in 07-08, but there continues to be no love lost between the two star power forwards. I don’t blame West at all, Dirk is a… well… a Dirk minus the “r”.

The game would continue to go back and forth, with both teams focusing on defense. Marco played a strange role, effectively switching onto Dirk and shutting him down. He boxed him for rebounds, and truly wound up being the only guy on the Hornets that handled Dirk. If you had told me before the game that Marco would be deliberately put on Dirk, and it would work, I would have laughed at you. He wound up grabbing a huge rebound with 15 seconds left, and was without a doubt the difference maker in the fourth quarter. In my younger days I would have called you a name, too, but not anymore. Now I just get called the names.

With 1:03 left the Hornets led 97-95, and the team was only three points away from victory (since they don’t allow over 100 to the opposition). Chris Paul missed a floater late in the shot clock, but the Hornets stopped the Mavs on the following possession. After the Belinelli rebound, it was Peja time.

Peja Time

One of the all time best free throw shooter of all time, Peja missed his second shot to leave the margin at three. End Peja time.

The Hornets let Dirk drive the hole for an easy layup, knowing they would still have a one point lead afterward. Trevor Ariza again threw an awful inbound pass with time winding down, this time giving the ball to Dallas instead of to Emeka. With six seconds left, down one, the Mavs went to Dirk, covered by West. West channeled his inner hatred for Dirk, and snagged the rock.

He missed the first free throw and then made the second. Why West makes the second one I will never understand (since the Mavs didn’t have a timeout left), but it worked out in the end. Their desperation heave down the floor wound up in West’s hands and that was that.

Paul finished with 20 points on 12 shots, 11 assists, and only two turnover. What else did you expect?

The MVP of this game in my mind was Marco. He was the best defender on the floor throughout the game. Continue to color me impressed.

The explanation of how “woo” came to be (a caveman trying to start a fire and grunting, then lighting the fire and evolving the grunt in a “woo”) was pretty funny, but sort of ridiculous. It’s pretty much exactly what we expect from the Hornets in game videos. Better than worse in my opinion.

Hugo SHOVED A KID TO THE FLOOR during a round of musical chairs. Hilarious! The little tyke was a bit thrown off, even though he probably expected it. I might be the only one to think this, but I would enjoy it more if Hugo actually won all these contests by cheating.

I won’t be able to stick around for the post game press conference, so that’s that. Have a BEEautiful night!


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