Hornets Defense key to Comeback Victory against Hawks

Published: December 26, 2010

2 for 17 from deep. 9 for 15 from the free throw line. And despite those cringe worthy numbers, the Hornets still managed to hold off the Atlanta Hawks 93-86 to extend their home winning streak to four games. The 3rd and 4th quarters were vintage Chris Paul as he took over in the second half, scoring 18 of his 22 points to lead the Hornets to a comeback victory in front of nearly 16,000 screaming fans.

The Hornets trailed 55-46 at the end of the first half, but to be fair to the Hornets, the Hawks were making some shots that were gifts straight from Santa Claus himself. In fact, I am sure Marvin Williams made a deal with the devil in order to play that well in the first half, but the devil got him back via injury midway through the third quarter.

In fact, the whole starting five might have made that same pact because Atlanta came out ice cold in the 3rd quarter, missing 10 of their first 11 shots. While it is true that the Hornets defense deserves most of the credit, law of averages applies here as well. You just can’t keep taking that many bad shots and not expect to go on a cold streak. In fact, if it wasn’t for the free throw line, Atlanta would have been held to four points in the third quarter.

But this game wasn’t about the Hawks offense or the Hornets defense, it was about two letters and one number-




In the first half, he played the role of point guard, distributing the ball and attempting to get everyone involved. Midway through the 2nd quarter, however, the Hornets went ice cold and Atlanta took advantage by going on 20-6 run to take a nine point lead into the half. You can tell Chris Paul was not going to let the Hornets lose this game, however, as he came out in the third quarter looking for his own shot.

The 3rd quarter was his as he went off for 13 points, including an acrobatic layup that split two defenders and drew a foul for a breathtaking three-point play the old fashioned way. The whole quarter just felt like the 07-08 season all over again. The Hornets were down at the half due to a poor second quarter, they were having trouble finding their own offense, their outside shots weren’t going down, and then…. “Up in the Hive- It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, it’s, it’s, it’s…. CP3!!

I know that long term the Hornets can not rely on Chris Paul game in and game out to carry them, but on night’s like this it feels great to have a superstar to get you a quality win before a week that includes both 2010 NBA Finals teams.

Other Notes and Observations

Trevor Ariza came out scared and timid yet again, and then a strange thing happened. He pump faked on a three-pointer and the Hawks actually bit on it despite the fact that Ariza had missed his last 18 three-point attempts. Yeah, that’s right I said 18 in a row. Anyway, Atlanta bit and Ariza took the ball to the rack for a thunderous dunk. That one play seemed to boost his confidence like mushrooms boost Mario’s height. From then on, he was a different player, nailing 2 of his next 3 three point attempts and finishing with 12 points.

– Marcus Thornton had 6 points on 8 attempts and actually missed a layup, but to me this was one of his best games and I think Monty would agree. He had some key defensive rebounds, set up Mbenga for a huge dunk, and actually played his butt off on defense. Sometimes your shots fall and sometimes they don’t, but good players can effect the game on nights when their shot is off. Thornton did that tonight.

– Third great game in a row for Emeka Okafor. 14 points, 15 rebounds and he held Horford to 8 points- half of his season average. Guy is straight ballin. Let’s remember this stretch when he goes cold again. Remember- never praise too much when things are going well, don’t bash too much on bad nights. Keep it all in perspective.

– David Anderson needs to get every part of his body into the shot in order to get his three point attempts to the rim. It looked awful- like an upright human catapualt. Monty obviously wasn’t a fan either, as Anderson was pulled during the next time out and never returned.

– Jarrett Jack actually closed out the game for the Hornets, playing the two guard in place of Marco Belinelli who was horrible, as I predicted he would be in my pre-game write up. It is just a bad matchup for Marco, as Atlanta is too long  and does not allow him into the lane, therefore he is relegated to standing at the arc and shooting. Tonight he was 0-6 (0-3 from deep) and Monty wanted Jack’s steadiness down the stretch.

– Q-Pon had a nice little 6 minute stint in the second quarter, going 2 for 2 and scoring 5 points. I still don’t think he will be a rotation player come playoff time, but he could be a key piece next year after another summer and training camp.


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