Hornets beat Memphis in Overtime

Published: January 19, 2011

My adrenaline is still going after that finish.  After crushing Memphis for long periods in the second half, for almost all of overtime, the Hornets defense was struggling to get any sort of stop.  Randolph was simply a load in OT and hitting some tough shots over Okafor.  With less than a minute, Memphis finally got some separation, going up by four.  I was already telling myself the game was over.

Then Paul hits a off-balance set-shot from three feet behind the three point line, and it’s a one point game.  A foul later, and Thornton tips the ball on the inbounds, Paul collects it and is off to the races.  And who does he find in front of him to receive his pass?  Emeka Okafor?  WHAT? And what does Okafor do?  Why, of course he collects an overthrown ball, turns, and calmly feeds Thornton a bounce pass, through traffic, for a reverse layup.  His only assist of the game.  Hell, he only averages half an assist a game.  103-102 lead.  Six more seconds of tight defense and the game was over.


Marcus Thornton

What can you say?  17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.  Big pressure bucket after bucket.  Hard-nosed defense on an admittedly slow OJ Mayo.  His energy was tremendous.  However, this is the weirdest thing about the game – Belinelli had been playing alright, and Willie Green actually had a good stint in the first half – yet Monty still gave Thornton a whirl in the third rather than play them.  Clearly it was a good thing and the Hornets needed an offensive burst, but I’d love to find out what Monty was thinking when he put Thornton in.  Typically he rides whichever shooting guard is doing well to start the game.

Emeka Okafor

Thornton did it in a burst, but Okafor did his work all game long.  His line, again, isn’t that impressive, but he anchored that defense so well while taking on the toughest assignment in the post with Randolph.  He limited Zach to an ordinary day on the boards, holding him down while West and Ariza cleaned the glass, and then harassed him into 17 points on 20 shots by forcing him out to a mid-range spot on the floor where Randolph isn’t at his best but is still willing to let fly.  Oh, and of course, he was the one who got his hand on the ball to deflect the lob that turned into a Paul-Thornton fast break, and then assisted on the final offensive play for the Hornets as I listed above.  Great game for Mek.  I’m fully on board with an Emeka Okafor for the All-Star Game push.  I’ll admit, after last year?  I NEVER thought I’d say that.

Other Observations

  • Great defensive game from Ariza.  I don’t care if he missed a ton of shots, he still got to the line for some freebies to keep from being a detriment,  cleaned the defensive glass, and harassed Rudy Gay into 22 points on 23 shots.  In fact, of Gay’s 8 made jumpers, Ariza was only guarding him directly for 3 of them.  Lock. Down.
  • The Grizzlies ran a play where Randolph and Gasol would set cross screens for each other four times that game.  Every time they ran it, either Gasol or Randolph would get the ball in deep post position, and they ended with 2 baskets, 2 free throws, and a point blank miss that was cleaned up on an offensive rebound.  I’m glad they only ran it four times.
  • Paul had a nice game and some vital baskets, but you can tell that wheel is slowing him a little – he was having trouble getting that little bit of seperation needed on his drives.
  • West and Paul struggled defending the Gasol-Conley pick and roll at the end.  Either West kept hedging too much, or Paul would get cleared out completely by Gasol and be out of the play.
  • In that first half, the Grizzlies long jumpers were going down.  In the second half, the Hornets contested them, and they stopped.
  • David West had a quiet 19, 11 and 3 blocks.  He did a nice job on Gasol, despite giving up a lot of size to the Grizzlies big man.  He also, for about the sixth time in recent memory, poked loose a guard’s dribble(Conley) on a crossover during a crucial posession.  Great anticipation and basketball IQ.
  • How did Aaron Gray register a +7?  He was pretty awful out there.

Six in a row.  Let’s hope they get 7 against Atlanta on Friday.  Without needing overtime.  Sheesh this has been a tense stretch of games.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.