The Hive Five: Game Eighty-Six

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

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

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

Hey Jason Kidd, J-Pargo isn’t your wife. That’s gotta be one of the most unsportsmanlike plays in recent memory. What happens if Pargo can’t get his hands in front in time (he almost didn’t). I shudder to think of it. That last, tiny iota of respect I had for Jason Kidd? Yeah, it’s gone.

Shout all you want, Juwan. But just remember that’s Peja Stojakovic you’re yelling at.

The Hornets just went out and smashed an inferior team, plain and simple. All series, we’d been letting Dallas hang around via the free throw line; tonight, we cut off their biggest lifeline, and they suffered. The defense stepped up big time, and as Avery said in his post-game presser, “David West came out in the second half and dominated [them].” West fought back from a terrible first half, stayed within himself in the 3rd, and kept going to his strengths. We’ve seen David succumb to frustration by lowering his shoulder, and committing bad fouls when his shot isn’t on. Tonight represented a huge and underrated step forward for him. While Paul couldn’t really get back to his Game 1 and 2 level of play, David West made sure he did.

The thing that stood out most about our defense was the lateral movement of Hornets’ players. In Game 3, Dallas blew by defenders at will, but tonight they could never get that all important first step. It’s only natural that this resulted in a ton of fadeaway jumpers over outstretched hands and far fewer layups. The Mavericks shot a miserable 36% from the floor (40% eFG) with no regular save Dampier (2-3) shooting above 50% from the floor. The Big 3 for Big D (J-Ho, Jet, and the Whale) went an awful 17-50 from the floor, while our Big 3 (CP, DX, Predrag) went 22-46. That discrepancy alone explains a lot about the win.

Apparently Pargo’s monster game on Friday was just a precursor to the bench’s break-out tonight. Pargo didn’t quite score 30, but he impressed me with 6 rebounds. Everything he did on the court, he did with aggression, whether it was pulling up for the transition three, throwing the alley oop lob, or snapping to his feet to challenge Jason Kidd’s foul. Throughout this last week I’ve heard a lot of people calling Pargo the best back up point guard in the league, and my reaction was to laugh. I still think that distinction belongs to a Jason Terry or Leandro Barbosa, but I can at least see where those assertions are coming from. Statistically, Paul outshone him, but Pargo was a +14 on the court to CP’s +12 (Oddly enough, Tyson led the way with +22… which is why I don’t put much stock in +/- numbers unless they’re adjusted).

Byron Scott must have heard my cries of anguish through this blog, because he unleashed Julian Wright big time. Seriously, how good is this guy going to be? He runs the fast break like a young Vince Carter, he stops his crossovers on a dime like Chris Paul, and his jumper is eerily reminiscent of a young Kobe- good but not great. And there’s that whole dunking thing. Here’s what I found most encouraging about this game- our best bench player, Bonzi Wells, goes 1-4 from the field, is a total non-factor, plays just twelve minutes, and we’re still talking about how good the bench was. This second unit has made significant strides since the Wells acquisition. They virtually outplayed a deep Dallas bench that include starter for most teams Jerry Stackhouse, playoff experienced Devean George, and the utterly unguardable Brandon Bass. On to the factors:

Pace

Eff

eFG

FT/FG

OREB%

TOr

NOR

88.0

110.2

52.6%

22.4

13.9

10.2

DAL

95.5

40.4%

13.5

30.2

12.5

1. Shooting () Normally, you might chalk up such a huge discrepancy in eFG% to lucky shots dropping for one team, and the opposite for the other side. That wasn’t the case tonight. We attacked the basket aggressively in order to get good looks at the hoop, and to make up for having only 12 assisted baskets. Dallas also had just 12 assists, but they settled for tough jumpers all night long.

2. Turnovers () The Hornets have shown unbelievable poise through these first four games. Dallas didn’t score a single point off a turnover until a pointless bucket in garbage time, while the Hornets came up with 5 steals to Dallas’ 2. Chris Paul this series: 45 assists, 6 turnovers. Wow.

3. Offensive Rebounding (X) The DREB numbers were ugly again, but the Hornets definitely tightened up in the second half. In the first two quarters, Brandon Bass had 6 offensive rebounds versus the Hornets’ 4. Bass didn’t pick up another offensive board the rest of the game. Still, if the Hornets want to make absolutely certain that they win Game 5, this needs to be fixed.

4. Free Throws (√√√) Yes! Byron Scott finally got it into the Hornets’ heads to stop fouling. Sure, Tyson Chandler picked up 2 fouls within the first 4 minutes. Sure Hilton Armstrong picked up 3 fouls in about 10 minutes. But both those guys combined for just 2 more fouls in the next 32 minutes that they played. Peja Stojakovic, a major culprit in Games 1, 2, and 3 with 8 total fouls, was whistled one time.

5. Pace (88) Faster than Game 3, slightly slower than Games 1 and 2. The slow pace belies how often we got out on the fastbreak, but perhaps Dallas’ inability to run the break compensates for that. Some final notes: our insistence on not relying on the trifecta continued, as we attempted just 10 triples. Peja Stojakovic is now 15-24 from downtown in the series, good for a 63% percentage. Jerry Stackhouse since his ridiculous comments about Coach Scott: 22 minutes, 1-7, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2 points, 1 turnover, and 1 air-balled three. Josh Howard, first four games: 15-58 (25% shooting).

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

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

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

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One Response

  1. Excellent recap. It was a great game to watch. I can’t wait for the (hopefully) final game on Tuesday. You know, though, since the Kidd trade I think the Mavs are much weaker in depth. I’ve watched Devean George for several years and I’ve never been impressed by him (and as an ex-Laker fan, I was actually rooting for him). Ditto with Malik Allen. And while Stack is usually solid off the bench (or Terry, whoever doesn’t start), Juwan Howard, Eddie Jones, and Jamal Magloire are far removed from whatever they once brought to the table. Jose Barrea and Tyronne Lue rarely play (and don’t bring much). And okay, Bass has been good this year. But I dare say our bench has outdueled them in pretty much every game. And I’d expect as much Tuesday.

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