The Hive Five: Game Eighty-Four

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

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

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

Oh my god. I have no words.


First Baron Davis, now Chris Paul… who’s next, Muggsy Bogues?

Okay, maybe I have a few. How !@#%^&@ good is Chris Paul? I might as well make this recap about his game more than the Hornets’ performance. Literally everything that happened offensively started and ended with him. To follow up a 35-10 playoff debut, he fires in 32 and 17? Unreal. 10 for 16 from the floor, 12 for 14 from the field, 32 points, 17 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. Just take another second to digest that. Then recall that this was a game where Dallas was supposed to adjust to Paul, to make up for how he embarrassed them in Game 1. Paul was supposed to work much harder on defense, and to an extent he did. But Chris Paul just would not be denied tonight. He showed every “veteran” virtue you could possibly want. Let’s review some of his biggest attributes in this game:

1. PatienceOn numerous occasions, CP passed up a wide open three to probe the lane and create an easy bucket. The example I remember best was when the Hornets were up 16 with Dallas threatening. Paul had a look at a wide open three with Dampier closing. Instead of taking it, he blew past Dampier, looked off Dirk, and then found a teammate for a wide open layup. At that point in the game, getting a sure bucket to stop the bleeding was much more important than stretching the lead. Paul understood that and did what was necessary.

2. TransitionI don’t think I’ve seen Paul play as great a transition game all season as he did tonight. His pass to Wells under the hoop whilst staring at Peja the whole time was wicked. As usual, he found Peja for the transition three from the wing on a couple of instances. He got a little bit overaggressive in pushing the ball during the third (en route to picking up 3 turns) but quickly rectified the situation.

3. UntrappableThe thing everybody was talking about pre-game- Avery Johnson’s plan to trap CP a lot more in Game 2. A lot of that trapping happened in the first quarter, but Paul escaped virtually every single one via a quick spin move or fancy dribbling. I was somewhat surprised that Avery didn’t go the trap in later quarters, but with Paul passing out of it deftly, what else was he supposed to do? In the end, CP made sure that the trap hurt the Mavericks more than it hurt the Hornets.

But while CP may have set up the scores, the rest of the Hornets did a terrific job finishing. While Marc Stein named the Peja signing one of the three biggest “busts” last summer, I don’t think you’ll find a single person it this summer. Morris Peterson hit two huge threes to help pull away along with an odd looking leaner from the top of the key. David West was David West. Pargo finally connected on a few jumpers. The guy who impressed me most, though, was Hilton Armstrong. Yes, Brandon Bass made him look foolish play after play. Yes, he missed a couple catches down under. Armstrong just did not stop fighting tonight- every time Bass dunked on him, Hilton would come back aggressively on the next offensive set. That desire to one up an opponent is something he didn’t show much during the year, and the playoffs seem to be bringing out the best in his game. On to the factors…

Pace

Eff

eFG

FT/FG

OREB%

TOr

DAL

91.0

113.2

52.1%

42.9

27.0

17.6

NOR

139.6

67.1%

26.6

12.5

7.7

1. Shooting () Dallas regained its shooting touch, but the Hornets were, as Bob Licht might say, “ON FAYUR!” Check out this stat: every single Hornet except for JuJu (1-3) and RB40 (0-1, and yes, he does deserve that ostentatious a nickname) shot above 50% from the floor. And 99% of that is because of Chris Paul. As a side note, the giant Peja heads are simply amazing. I have a vision that in a few games, there’ll be 20-30 Peja heads floating around instead of just 3. What if every person in attendance held up the giant Peja head? Oh, the possibilities are endless.

2. Turnovers () I mentioned this in my preview- Dallas forces fewer turnovers than any team in the league, and we took advantage. Paul picked up 3 turns but none were egregiously bad- JKidd had great anticipation in stealing a couple of them. Other than Paul, the rest of the team had 3 turnovers combined. Good game.

3. Offensive Rebounding (X) Again, we were pummeled on the D-Glass, but this time we couldn’t get the offensive boards ourselves. Tyson led the way with 3 OREBS, but Bonzi was the only other Hornet to record an offensive board. Some of that can be attributed to Byron Scott’s strategy to get back in transition. However, David West’s typical aggression on the board has definitely been missing thus far.

4. Free Throws () Dallas went to the line way too many times for the second straight game. Dirk was the biggest cause of that, attempting 15 free throws, but Brandon Bass was a large factor as well (9-9 from the stripe). Chris Paul got to the line 14 times for the Hornets, but nobody else drew too many fouls.

5. Pace (91) No surprise in the pace, once more. Some closing notes: only 13 out of 204 teams (6%) have ever come back from a 2-0 deficit in a 7 game series. It wouldn’t take a mathematician to realize that that’s a very small number. Paul became the first player in NBA history to open his playoff career with back-to-back 30 point/10 assist games. Unless Dallas can find some answers at home, it could very easily become three in a row on Friday. As the Mavericks blog FireAvery.com writes, “There are going to be some people that say that the Mavs are still ok, that the Hornets just did what they had to do by holding home court (I’m looking at you Brad Davis). While technically true, has this team and coached showed anybody anything that should breed any confidence going into Friday’s game?” As awesome as New Orleans was tonight, I’m still firmly in the “all we did was hold home court” camp. I strongly believe the players will have that mindset too; going to Dallas overconfidently would not be characteristic of this Hornet team. Let’s approach Game 3 with a fresh chip on our shoulder, and let’s approach it as a totally different series. I know the Mavericks will.

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

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

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

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5 Responses

  1. woooooooo! Go CP3

  2. Well, on the OREB stats, its hard to get OREB when you shoot 60% for the GAME!!!! Are you serious, sounds crazy even writing that. And about Hilton, don’t forget about the 2 charges he drew in the 2nd QTR, and the diving save from out of bounds that led to a transition 3 from Peja. I was loving Hilton’s not-in-the-boxscore hustle.

  3. Yeah. Not much to add to stats in such a great game. But RE the Peja heads, my favorite moment was when instead of just trotting around the court like they usually do, one dude ran with his giant Peja head at a full sprint from one corner of the court to the opposite end along the baseline and then right up into the stands, still at full tilt. It was frightening. But wicked cool.

  4. @ Mikey: Well, the point of OREB% is that it counts how many OREBS you got out of all possible opportunities. So it accounts for you making a lot of shots in that way. But yes, totally agree about Hilton’s non boxscore contribution. He was so awesome that me and my roommate had a Hilton stream of Harmstrong jokes going- “Maybe he stayed at the Hilton last night!”, “Guess who’s king of the HILL… ton??” hahaha, and on and on.

    @mw: I wonder if AAirlines Center in Dallas tries to do anything in response. My guess: no way they come up with somethign as cool.

  5. […] At The Hive: Untrappable. [That was] the thing everybody was talking about pre-game — Avery Johnson’s plan to trap CP a lot more in Game 2. A lot of that trapping happened in the first quarter, but Paul escaped virtually every single one via a quick spin move or fancy dribbling. I was somewhat surprised that Avery didn’t go the trap in later quarters, but with Paul passing out of it deftly, what else was he supposed to do? In the end, CP made sure that the trap hurt the Mavericks more than it hurt the Hornets. […]

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