Washington 85 (6-24) | New Orleans 97 (19-9)
So, I think Mike James might be mad at us. And he let us know. Despite fouling out in the fourth, he still managed 16 points and 7 assists on 6 for 12 shooting from the floor. Keep in mind that his per game averages for the Wiz this year are closer to 12 and 4. Also consider that In 17 games with the Hornets (in which he played a total of 73 minutes), he put up 20 points and 7 assists (per 36 minutes comes to 9.8 and 3.4). Tonight's effort is the per 36 equivalent of 24.8 points and 8.7 assists. So, thanks for that Mike. Nice to see you try harder when you aren't moping about being a backup (which you will be again if Gilbert ever decides to play again). Whatever.
The Hornets pulled out a victory despite an unusually close score throughout the second two quarters of the game. In all honesty, a healthy Hornets team against a beat up Wiz squad should never have yielded as many lead changes as it did.
Chris managed his third triple-double of the year (which is the best mark in the league, remarkably), dialing in for 15 points, 16 assists, 10 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 turnovers (one of which he dribbled off his foot). He only managed to go 4 of 10 from the field, but nailed 7 of 9 from the stripe so we'll forgive him. Tyson looked like his old self adding 11 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block, while DX went crazy posting up on Antawn Jamison to the tune of 20 points (and 6 boards to boot).
Peja, on the other hand, turned in a lackluster performance. His cold shooting hand (4 for 14 for 9 points) was somewhat offset by his 5 assists and 3 rebounds, but let's be honest: that's not really what we pay him to do. With a primary jump shooter in a slump, someone needed to step up and save us from bricking ourselves into a loss.
Enter Rasual Butler and James Posey. The two wingmen knocked down a combined 8 for 12 from beyond the arc while playing solid defense all night (Posey even managed 2 blocks). Butler finished the night with a team-high 21 points on 8 for 11 shooting, giving Byron further proof that he belongs in the starting 5.
(We love you Mo Pete! Promise!)
Overall the Wiz looked decent considering their lack of Tough Juice and Agent Zero. Jamison dropped 22 points and 12 boards on us despite tough defense from D.West. Fortunately, he shot less than 50% while taking almost a third of his entire team's shots. Of course, who else was going to shoot? Juan Dixon? No thanks.
Now it's time to pack up and play some teams that really mean business. Our next four games are on the road and they are brutal: Portland, Denver, LA (Lakers), and Utah. Crazy. Hopefully we can win at least half of those.
Happy New Year. See you guys on the 9th.
Couple of observations before I leave you:
- I think Byron's been reading Hornets Hype. Devin Brown had his second DNP of the season tonight (after sitting out aganst Miami back in November).
- The end of the first half prompted an eerie moment of deja vu as DeShawn Stevenson nailed a half court shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 46 going into halftime. Man, I did not enjoy that one iota. Thank god I'm not superstitious.
- So, in case you didn't catch it earlier, Mike "The Amityville Horror" James is a starter now. And his number is 13. Interesting combo, no?
- Half ofJames' assists came from the same play. He'd drive towards the basket from the corner with Paul in tow. Tyson would then leave his man to follow, allowing James to dump the ball of to Etan Thomas or Andray Blatche for an easy two. I'm not mentioning this to take away from the assist, but rather to point out my disappointment with Tyson for falling for the same trick like 5 times.
- Dear Sean Marks. Please stop shooting. Thanks.
- Michael "The Beer Man" Lewis and P.J. Brown were at the game tonight. I have no idea why. They just were.
- The crowd flat out sucked tonight. No two ways about it. They were unusually quiet throughout the whole contest. Which was weird since it was a sellout. After a dumb foul called on West in the fourth I hollered at the refs amongst an otherwise silent crowd, only to then yell "Oh ok. It must not have been a foul since I'm the only one in the ENTIRE FREAKING ARENA that had a problem with the call." Thank god this game wasn't against a harder team in which the crowd might matter.
- I lied. The crowd did manage to perk up for one occaision: when they showed the Alabama football team (who were in attendance) on the Jumbotron. The entire arena started boo-ing. Then, some 30 seconds after the cameras had moved on, an "LSU!" chant started. Great. We can scream our eyes out for a team that sucked this year or we can CHEER FOR THE GAME WE CAME TO SEE. Unbelievable. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'd probably boo at the Spurs if I saw them at an LSU game, but COME ON, DAMMIT. The team on the court in front of you could use some support, too. What a waste.
Photo courtesy of espn.com