Philadelphia 86 (21-22) | New Orleans 101 (27-14)
Ok, so I tempted Byron by playing devil's advocate the other day (in the comments). But tonight, he showed a willingness to adapt that far exceeded my wildest dreams. And the Hornets came away with a solid W against a good team despite the absence of Tyson and D.West on the court.
Ok, Chris Paul's near quadruple-double (27, 15, 10, 7), Peja's 26 points (6 treys), and matching Philly's physical post play may have also factored into the win, but who's counting? Oh right, all of us.
For those of you who are wondering about my lack of trust in Byron's ability to adapt, here's what I envisioned going down tonight:
The 76ers are fast and physical team. They score most of their buckets in transition or in the paint. They rarely spread the floor (and why would they; as a team they shoot 33% from deep), and they prefer to impose their insane tempo on the unsuspecting. Even with Elton Brand only back for his second game, Philly rolled into NOLA with a record of 8-1 in the last 9.
And who were they to play? A team who is the exact opposite. The Hornets prefer to slow the pace and spread the floor with a plethora of shooters, hoping someone will get it going from deep every night (and for the most part, that's been working as the team is dropping 39% from deep). They run high screens and allow their best shooters to create from at 17 feet out.
But since we were lacking our best bigs (one of whom is worth 20 points a game to us), it made sense to think that we'd get abused in the paint again (in case you missed it, Minny dropped 52 in the paint on us Saturday), and our lack of scoring prowess down low would mean that we wouldn't be able to create enough open looks on the wings.
But lo and behold: I was way off. Let's get into the bullets and see why (I landed tickets 7 rows behind the Hornets' bench for the game tonight, so my observations should be... closer, I guess):
- Byron started JuJu! Oh happy, glorious day! His point total was underwhelming (all 2 of them), but he did contribute 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal in 22 minutes of play. As Bill "Herm Edwards" Simmons might say: We can build on this!
- As expected, we got out-rebounded and out-blocked. I'd also be willing to bet that we lost the points in the paint battle, but I can't seem to find a site that lists that statistic (bonus points for someone who can help me out in the comments).
- The 76ers came out and played a very physical first half. It took until the second half for us to respond and, lucky for us, that's when Peja and the wingmen started to make it rain (more bonus points to anyone who starts a band called Peja and the Wingmen). The Hornets finished with 14 of 31 treys from deep.
- Poor Hilton couldn't buy a call tonight. Early in the game, he kept trying to post up off the dribble, and each time he seemed to get knocked around. Then he got called for a questionable travel and Byron pulled him. He probably should have gotten a few calls out of some of those possessions, but I guess that's how the cards fall sometimes. He finished with 6/3 and a block.
- We struggled all night with second chance points. We actually out-rebounded them on the offensive glass, but that stat is misleading since we were batting missed shots all over the place. So frustrating to watch a big miss a high percentage put back all night long.
- Back to JuJu: he and Paul almost connected for an alley-oop tonight, but it failed because (I think) JuJu thought the assist was actually a pass. He ended up catching it late and landed under the basket with nowhere to go. After watching Thaddeus Young, light us up for the first half, I couldn't help but wonder if more playing time would allow JuJu to get a better feel for the team (and Paul) and help him avoid easy mistakes like the missed dunk. Just a thought.
- Speaking of Thaddeus Young, holy moley is he awesome. I hear he's somewhat inconsistent, but tonight he was firing on all cylinders, dropping 22 points on 11 of 16 from the field.
- My buddy Curry may have been responsible for one of Andre Miller's missed buckets in the third. With 14 seconds left on the shot clock, Miller was being guarded tight near one of the corners. As another player approached for the double-team, he launched up a prayer of a shot that missed by a mile. Was it the double-team that forced the shot despite having time to pass? Or was it Curry who was pretending the shot clock was running out and deploring Miller to shoot? You make the call.
- Found this little nugget on ESPN: New Orleans is 23-7 when Stojakovic scored in double digits, 4-7 when he doesn't. Good to know.
- Chris Paul almost had a quadruple-double. I know I already said that once, but I thought it bore repeating. If that ever actually happens, my head may explode. Just warning you.
Composed to: Brian Eno's Another Green World.
Sorry about the photo. ESPN didn't post any from the game, so I thought I'd try to substitute something to represent Peja's total pimpage from beyond the arc tonight. Succes? I think so.