Hornets pull away late in win over Bobcats

Published: January 15, 2011

With 6:37 left in the 4th quarter Tyrus Thomas hit his second free throw to bring the Bobcats within one point. The score read: Hornets 76-75 , and it stayed that way for nearly three minutes as neither team could get anything going. It was at that point that the Hornets went to their playmaker. No, not Chris Paul- I am talking about David West.

West set up Willie Green for an 18 foot jumper that put the Hornets up three and then he played the inside-out game with Chris Paul who drained a huge three-pointer off of a David West kick out. At that point, the game was all but over considering how both offenses had looked in the fourth quarter. If Paul’s three wasn’t the dagger, Tyrus Thomas might have inflicted the fatal wound to his own team.

Thomas grabbed a defensive rebound with 2:38 left and the Bobcats down by four, and wildly swung his elbow right into Emeka Okafor’s face. The result was a flagrant-2, two made free throws by Emeka, and Hornets ball, side out. The Bobcats could have gotten the lead down to 1 or 2, but instead West got to the line on that ensuing possession and the Hornets were up by 8. Game. Set. Match.

Marcus Thornton

Undoubtedly he will be the topic of 90% of the conversation, so let’s just get it over with. The guy was a spark in the first half for the Hornets, scoring 7 points and setting up his teammates for some open looks. In the second half, however, Marcus only got 4 minutes as Monty preferred to go with Jack, Pondexter, and Green. Monty seemed to be concerned with Charlotte’s size on the wings, as Jackson and Wallace were taking smaller guys down to the post. If I had to guess why Monty went with that trio, it is because of their bulk and defensive prowess. Monty gave MT5 the green light early in the 4th and he responded with a nice assist to West and a missed jumper.

Monty doesn’t seem to have anything against Thornton, he just likes other guys better. The best analogy I can give: My fiancee makes me watch The Bachelor in return for her watching everything I want to watch. Every year it comes down to these final five or so and all the girls are relatively hot, they have careers, a brain, good hearts, etc. It’s not like there are any “losers” in the group at that point- but he can only choose one. When he lets one of them go, they always ask “What did I do wrong?” and to me, that is not really a fair question. He just likes another chick more because objectively you are all about equal, but he is a subjective creature who has his own preferences.

Marco and Thornton have the same PER and Willie’s is 1 point less- they are all relatively equal all things considered. Monty likes defense and lateral quickness on the defensive end. Maybe he is right, maybe he is wrong- but it is not a matter of hating on a guy for personal reasons or stubbornness. The guy just likes what he likes.

David West

Two nights in a row the guy does his best pre-injury Larry Johnson impression. For old school Hornets fans, you know what I am talking about. LJ would drive down the lane and unleash some nasty dunks on the opposition. West had a huge one last night that Ryan has chronicled and he followed up that performance with an equally nasty dunk in the first quarter today.

And is it just me or does West play extra physical against Diaw? Do you think he is still mad about getting screwed out of the Most Improved Player award and holds Diaw responsible since he can’t dunk on the face of the voters. West finished with 26 and 8, and had those two key assists late. I love me some CP3, but West seriously deserves to be AT LEAST co-MVP with Paul on this team now that half of the season is over with.

Other Notes and Observations

– Perhaps the worst rebounding effort by the Hornets since the first Lakers game. The numbers don’t really reflect it, but if you watched the game, then you know what I am talking about. At least 4 times a Bobcats player got an offensive rebound due to the Hornets not communicating and knocking it out of their own teammates’ hands. Good rebounding teams find a man when the ball is in the air and put a body on him. Tonight the Hornets just starred at the rim and waited for the ball to come to them. Hopefully that was just due to fatigue and is not the start of a trend.

– The Hornets missed opportunities at the end of each of the first three quarters to get some points. In their magical ’07-’08 season, it seemed like the Hornets always closed the quarter with a made shot, but it is hard to recall that happening many times this year (outside of Marco 70 foot heaves). Jack missed a jumper at the buzzer to end the first, CP3 missed one before the half and Ariza took an extra dribble that resulted in a dunk that came .2 seconds after the 3rd quarter buzzer sounded. In close games like these and come playoff time- those are huge points. The Hornets have to get that end of quarter magic back.

– We can’t say that the Hornets don’t catch breaks from time to time- the Bobcats missed two point blank dunks in this game and also failed to convert some rather easy layups.

– Okafor looked exhausted tonight. No way Kwame has the game of his life if the Hornets didn’t land in Charlotte at 6 AM following back to back overtime games. Kwame constantly got position down low as Emeka attempted to front a guy with no post moves for some reason. Considering that he was probably 75% at best, this might have been one of Okafor’s top 5 games as a Hornet in my opinion.

– In order of preference: Give me Gerald Wallace, then Nazr Mohammad, then Stephen Jackson. Wallace would be a great fit, even if the Hornets kept Ariza. He does a great job coming off of screens and can take the ball to the hole if defenses go over picks or can hit the 20 footer if they go under. Nazr didn’t do much, but the fact that J Smitty was a no show once again and Aaron Gray can’t set a pick without getting an offensive foul makes any competent big man look like an All-Star. Jackson just wouldn’t fit on either end of the court with this particular team. Granted, he would be better than Green or Belinelli but he would also take the ball out of the hands of much more efficient players.

– The Bobcats started off the game red hot from distance- going 4 of 6. They came back to Earth, however, missing 8 of their last 9.

– Jarrett Jack looked remarkably slow tonight every time he tried to penetrate. It really looked like the Bobcats had super glued him themselves to his hip. Jack was 1 of 7 tonight and the one make was a difficult fadeaway as the shot clock expired in the 4th.

– Quincy Pondexter made some nice passes tonight and had several “hockey assists” by my count. He threaded the needle that led to an Okafor power layup and had a couple nice drive and kicks in his 13 minutes of play. The guy didn’t miss a shot, didn’t have a turnover, and only missed one defensive rotation by my count. He will never be a Drew Brees, but he can be a Brad Johnson (translation: he won’t win you games, but he won’t lose them either), and I will take that as my 8th man.

– Jason Smith contributes nothing to this team and has been completely figured out by league scouts. If he is the first and only big coming off this bench in the playoffs, it will hard for the Hornets to get out of the first round unless the Hornets plan on playing West and Okafor 44+ minutes a night.

– The Hornets had 21 assists on their 32 field goals, but CP3 only had 4 of those assists. Does anybody else remember the old days when Chris Paul would have 12 assists and the team as a whole only had 15 or 16? This Hornets team has more guys who can handle the ball and David West is a much better passer out of the post. This will make the Hornets far tougher to defend come playoff time.

– The Hornets zone is AWEFUL. Their guards are active, but West just gets lost in it on almost every possession. After his fourth or fifth mistake, CP3 let him have it and West was not very pleased as he shouted back at the Man of Steal. Monty called a timeout and the Hornets never went back to the zone again.

– Impressive stats: Emeka was 6 of 8 from the line, Ariza had 6 steals, and Okafor had three big blocks while also changing at least half a dozen shots. On a side note, if you took my advice and took the Hornets money line and parlayed it with the under that I suggested, you would have won $480 on a $100 bet.

– Hornets have 4 of their next 5 games at home and the four remaining road games they have this month (Atlanta, GS, Sac, and Phoenix) are all winnable. The Hornets can go on a nice little run before the All-Star break and if they do I have no doubt that they will be buyers at the trade deadline. This next month is huge for this year, and perhaps, beyond.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.