Phoenix 103 (10–3) | New Orleans 110 (5–8)
Wow, right? How did that happen?
I have to admit, 15 minutes before the game tonight I sat down in my seat at the arena and thought, "Oh yeah, this is a TNT game. Now everyone will get to see the slaughter. Like the Christmas Day Massacre all over again."
And why not? Despite beating the Clip Show the other night, we've been playing some pretty uninspiring ball. Not to mention that the glue that holds this team together is sitting on the sidelines in a (formidable) suit. Take that and throw it out against the team with the best record in the conference and who do you think walks away with the W? Thankfully, no one on the Hornets was buying my sour nancy act.
The Suns scored first, but then Hornets rattled off 15 unanswered points, capping an improbable run that brought the previously listless crowd roaring to their feet. 15 points for the Hornets, 2 for the Western Conference-leading Suns. (I would like to reiterate that CP3 did not play. At all.) Sure, those numbers were unsustainable–Phoenix had to start hitting shots at some point–but the by then, the buzz in the arena was flying. It almost felt like home-court advantage again. Like, dare I say, 2007. More correctly, it was fun in a way that the previous 10 or so games hadn't been.
At any rate, Phoenix closed the gap and even took the lead a few times, but Hornets dominated in a few key areas to seal the deal. For starters, we rebounded like crazy tonight. 56 to 38 was the final tally, but more importantly we finished with a 51% rate on the offensive glass (that would be 25 to 14) which led to a 31 to 13 advantage on second chance points. It probably didn't hurt that we shot high percentages from deep (52%) and the stripe (83%), but it was our aggression on the boards that gave us the real advantage. Oh, that and we finally played like a "team" (Devin Brown passed! Like 5 times!). Byron had run that notion out of the locker room, so it's nice to see it make a return.
Bullets after the jump.
- Peja!!! You win the "Who will put up the gaudiest stat line CP's absence" of the game award. 25 points on 19 shots, 7 of 11 from deep, 13 boards, 1 assist, and 1 turnover in 35 minutes. Thank you, sir.
- Emeka also had a nice night, finishing with 13 points, 12 boards (7 of which were on offense), 2 steals, and 1 block. Actually, "game" might not be the right word. More like "15ish minutes of a game. He started hot and then cooled quite a bit. Which is a shame, since he was on pace for your general 40 point, 28 rebound game after the first quarter.
- Emeka had a filthy block on Stoudemire. Trust me, it deserves its own bullet.
- Solid performances for the rookies as well. Thornton continues to impress with his aggression, while Collison seems to be getting better with his decision-making. Both are still a little reckless, but that's to be expected. Buckets finished with 19 points on 12 shots, 4 boards, 1 assist, and 1 steal while Dime contributed 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and only 1 turnover in 32 minutes.(Of course, it's be nice if Collison did better than 4 of 15 from the field, but he almost made up for it with a perfect 6 of 6 from the stripe... almost.)
- "Bleh" performance from DX. Granted, he only played 30 minutes, but really he couldn't seem to get it going. Finished the night with 6 points on 2 for 11 shooting, 4 boards, 5 dimes, and a steal.
- Yes, I'm avoiding Devin Brown.
- The Suns came out cold tonight, bricking quite a few shots early on. They snapped of it somewhere in the middle of the first quarter, but failed to really take control of the game at any point.
- Channing Frye impressed me quite a bit tonight. His line wasn't stellar–11 points and 10 boards isn't going to turn too many heads or anything–but I really liked his game... well, not the 1 for 7 from deep, but he's been hitting those at a crazy clip this year, so I can forgive him. I always wanted the Hornets to go after him during our "we need more solid big men coming off the bench" era. Oh, wait...
- Was anyone else amused to see that a team is rostering one of the Collins brothers?
- Fine. Devin Brown. You did well tonight. Even though I cringed every time you touched the ball, I have to admit you earned your keep tonight. Yes, there were plenty of dumb shots, poor passing decisions, and really dumb shots, but I suppose I can positive on you for one recap.
- In case anyone missed it, we rolled out a "Mardi Gras" uniform yesterday. I don't care what Paul Lukas says, it's ugly. That may be the point–you know, to revel in being tacky–but it's still ugly. Who knows, maybe it'll distract the other teams when we wear them in February.
Composed to: DJ Shadow's Entroducing...
The Opponent's Take: Bright Side of the Sun