The Hive Five: Game Eighty-One

WORDS: || AP (through NBA.com) || Five Observations ||

NUMBERS: || Box Score || Shot Chart || Play-by-Play ||

VIDEOS: || ESPN || NBA.com || Yahoo! ||

We’re back! And we’re SOUTHWEST DIVISION CHAMPS!!

Ahh! Cuttino, you take it!

David West was insane. Very little hesitation on the jumper, and the times he did hesitate, he made sure to take it to the rack hard. This is the unguardable power forward we need to show up in the playoffs, and I’m positive he’ll rise to the occasion. Going to West incessantly in the first was great strategy by Bryon- testing the recently injured Brand and the undersized Clipper frontline paid immediate dividends. Chris Paul returned to old form by going off in the third quarter. Hopefully this game signifies a return to the March level of play he had. And I’m not at all worried about Peja Stojakovic- he got great looks, but some nights they fall, and some nights they don’t. That’s the risk you run by relying too heavily on the three. New O recognized that it wouldn’t win tonight on the three-ball, so guys started looking for layups, and drawing fouls.

How about that Julian Wright kid? If anybody (Bryon Scott, I’m looking at you) had doubts as to his ability, tonight answered any such questions. He has amazing understanding of where to be on the floor on offense, can jump right out of the building, and has a great stroke on his jumper. He pestered every single Clipper on defense, poking balls away, and staying in front of ball-handlers easily. What more can a playoff contender want out of a rookie? If there’s one thing that surprised me most about this season, it’s not that the Hornets have 56 wins, it’s that the rookie from Kansas has made such an impact. Assuming good health, I think every Hornet fan saw the potential this team had last year itself. Wright getting so much playing time and doing even more with it has been really cool to see.

Wright’s bench compatriot Bonzi Wells, meanwhile, didn’t get to play. There’s really no way he’s in some sort of “doghouse” though. Byron Scott’s as smart as they come, and you bet he knows how important Wells is on the floor, regardless of what he might be doing off of it. I expect Wells to regain his old role, if not tomorrow, then definitely in the playoffs. The Wright-Wells combo just makes my mouth water… so awesome! Of course, it brings up an interesting point. Wells is a free agent this summer, and Wright is essentially a younger, more athletic, and more offensively gifted version of Wells. Do you try to bring back Bonzi, or trust that Wright can make the jump to the next level? Either way, it’s a good decision to have to make. A lot of kudos is in order for Mo-Pete. Over the last month, JuJu and Bonzi had supplanted him as the best defenders on the squad. Tonight, he showed the defense the Hornets were looking for in the offseason. On to the factors:

Pace

Eff

eFG

FT/FG

OREB%

TOr

LAC

90.0

102.2

51.4%

25.0

14.7

17.8

NOR

126.7

54.7%

24.7

22.5

5.6

1. Shooting () We shot 7-23 from downtown, and still managed to shoot 54.7 eFG%. That’s awesome. That’s the sort of thing good playoff teams do to win whilst shooting poorly. Chris Paul went 10-13, and David West went 12-17 to offset a 2-14 night from Predrag. Though Pargo and James didn’t shoot well, it was nice to see Mike get off a few looks at long jumpers.

2. Turnovers () 3 turns by Paul and just 2 by the rest of the team. The bench had zero turnovers, and New Orleans didn’t let the Clippers get a sniff of this game in the second half. My favorite part is that David West didn’t get a single charging call despite handling the ball so often. Meanwhile, the Hornets were all over the ball on the defensive end. Paul finished with 2 thefts, Peterson had 3, and Ryan Bowen of all people had 2 in 5 minutes.

3. Offensive Rebounding () We didn’t pound the offensive glass that hard, but we made sure to get the defensive rebounds. This might be something you see more in the playoffs- getting back on defense instead of trying to get offensive boards. I’m going to watch that closely tomorrow against Dallas.

4. Free Throws (X) I’ll say this: Al Thornton is really, really good. What did he have, three three point plays in the third quarter? If there’s one rookie whose athleticism can be compared to JuJu’s, it’s this guy. The play where he took a hard bump from Chandler and then threw it in was mind-boggling. That toss in took some crazy upper body strength. Of course, he doesn’t have JuJu’s range; the Clippers and Hornets should invest in some sort of ability combining machine. Then we could have Julian Thornton (who goes by the nickname “Al Wright”… haha get it? All? Right? Okay sorry. Back to the originally scheduled programming).

5. Pace (90) The Clips tried to push the pace at a few junctures, but the Hornets had none of it. All in all, you couldn’t have drawn up a better season finale than this one. DX had a 20 point first, in what has to be a franchise record. I think. Chris Paul took over the third and led the team to the blowout. Tyson Chandler was a beast on the offensive glass. Morris Peterson had the type of production we expected when we signed him. Peja was off, but I liked his work on Maggette. And Julian Wright finally had the monster dunk we were looking for. Every time he’s been on the floor this year, he’s driven hard through the paint for a dunk only to be fouled. We finally got to see him unleash the full Giraffe Calf powers, and boy was that a dunk. I can’t wait for NBA.com to put up the highlight of that. Easily dunk of the night.

I got to watch the Clippers’ broadcast of this game, and the commentary was excellent. They talked a little bit about former Hornet (one of my favorites when he was here) Dan Dickau. Any of you “old” guys remember his game winning jumper? Dickau apparently liked New Orleans a lot when he was there, and the reason he gave for leaving the team was pretty humorous: “Because they drafted Chris Paul.” They also mentioned another real interesting point- apparently many writers across the country are being instructed by their respective newspapers not to vote for the MVP award. According to the broadcasters, about 15 voters have already agreed to this. This really brings the future of the award into question. Who will be voting for the award in future years, if this becomes more widespread. Will the onus shift to broadcaster votes, or something else? One of the reasons cited by newspapers is a need for their writers to be objective. Wouldn’t the same problem exist for broadcasters? I’m off to watch Los Angeles take on Sacramento, but I’ll leave a last thought there:

I’m 99% sure Denver will beat Memphis (it’s a statement game for them following Melo’s DUI, yada yada yada). If New Orleans defeats Dallas tomorrow, the Hornets will take on Denver in the first round. If New Orleans loses to Dallas, they’d face Dallas. This is all assuming L.A. wins tonight. If the Lakers lose tonight, then tomorrow will be the wackiest last day of the season perhaps ever.

Here’s to an amazing 41 games back in New Orleans!

WORDS: || AP (through NBA.com) || Five Observations ||

NUMBERS: || Box Score || Shot Chart || Play-by-Play ||

VIDEOS: || ESPN || NBA.com || Yahoo! ||

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4 Responses

  1. How about the biggest and most important news of the night. We have gone over the benchmark attendance. We are now at 14738. I dont think anyone would have thought this was possible when the new deal was announced in January.

    I remember those nights in November when there were only 7,000 of us in attendance at the arena. What a difference 50 wins makes in a season.

  2. I think bloggers should vote for MVP in the future. And by bloggers I mean only Hornets bloggers. Of course.

  3. It was amazing watching D-West destroy the Clips in the first. It’s kind of remarkable that he only ended up with 32. However, I’m pretty sure his 20 in the 1st is NOT a record. Remember that game early last year, when Peja scored the Hornets first 23 points or something like that? Nonetheless, great game by David and the whole team last night.

  4. @ Mattq

    Thanks for that statistic… I agree with you that the seemingly impossible has happened. Reaching the benchmark by the end of THIS season? Unreal.

    @ Ron

    Dude, for sure. 10 time All-Star CP3? Pssh. More like 10 time MVP CP3. Oh, and throw one in for David and Tyson for good measure.

    @ mW

    Yeah… totally forgot that Peja game, haha. Against Charlotte or someone? I think David could’ve easily scored 50 if Byron left him in more/ran plays for him. When he’s on, he’s as fun as CP to watch.

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