Denver 92 (19-8) | New Orleans 98 (12-13)
As we've previously mentioned, "Holy jeezum... Chris Paul."
Seriously, how did we pull this one out? the Nuggets outplayed us for most of the first half and some of the second. We looked absolutely pitiful for stretches. Devin Brown, when he wasn't busy killing us with bad shots, looked slow on defense (of course, I think Ty Lawson would make just about everyone other than Collison look slow). Meanwhile, in the paint, Nene was owning Mekatron. Peja's hot hand and slow night from Melo kept the game close for a bit, but things look pretty bleak leading into the half.
But then, as expected, CP pulled up on the assists (he already had 15) and begin dropping shots. The whole thing was bananas; he was all over the court. What's more, is that his efforts seemed to energize the rest of the team, allowing the Hornets to finish a 33 point third quarter holding an 8 point lead.
The Nuggets, who played well the whole night, couldn't stop the bleeding, and the Hornets marched on through the 4th and took home the W. Different game if Billups plays? Probably. But the Bee's held their own and finished strong. I'm not saying they've finally put it together, but we did see Paul shifting into a gear of venomously competitive play that we haven't seen regularly in quite a while. And that's nice to have going forward.
Bullets after the jump.
- Team stats were relatively even across the board. The big difference? The Hornets landed 42% from deep (with 8 made shots), while the Nuggets managed on 18% (with 3 made shots). Extra sour for the visitors since they only lost by 6.
- To reiterate: CP is a god among men. Final line: 30 points (13 of 20 from the field), 19 dimes, 9 boards, and a steal. Wow. I still think we need to conserve his minutes a bit more, but until our bench gets its act together, CP may have to shoulder more of the load... which he loves to do anyway.
- The Big Oak: 9 points, 12 boards, and 5 blocks.
- Peja: 24 points (9 of 14 from the field) including 4 from downtown.
- Mediocre night for DX: 12 points (on 16 shots, yikes!), 8 boards, 1 assist, and 1 steal.
- Ty Lawson looked good out there. Very comfortable, not mention he's holy-freaking-god fast. 14 points on 10 shots with a couple of treys, dimes, and boards to boot.
- JR Smith continues to dominate when he plays us: 25 points on 11 for 17 shooting. Sure, he missed all three of his 3 point attempts, but man I hate that guy.
- Bad night for Melo. 10 boards and 3 blocks were nice (for his fantasy owners, I guess), but 5 for 16 from the field is pretty crummy. Bet he wants a do-over (with Chauncy, no less).
- George Karl made a very puzzling decision near the end of the game. Down 6 with 0:58 to play, the Nuggets (Melo, actually) miss 2 free throws, and the Hornets rebound. Down 6 and minute to go is prime fouling time, but Karl doesn't call for it and the Hornets drain the shot clock. Paul misses his shot, but manages an offensive rebound. He then waits 10 more seconds and before draining a 2 pointer. Now the Nuggets are down 8 with 19 seconds to play. What was Karl thinking? CP's on fire the whole second half; just foul whoever has the ball instead of letting the Hornets run the clock and THEN scoring. If you foul, the worst case scenario is you're down 8 with 0:50 or so to go. It boggles the mind.
- Ok, folks. I'm out until after Christmas. Thanks so much for reading and a Happy Holidays to all of you.
Composed to: Christmas with the Ratpack
Opponent's Take: Denver Stiffs (formerly Pickaxe and Roll)