Heh, I guess it pays to have two All-Stars.
Marv Albert mentioned in the third quarter that Chris Paul had it in "cruise control." I find it hard to argue with that assessment. Other than his late performance (the jumper and two steals), he was stymied for a large part of his 14/9/8/4/4 performance. Luckily, David West was beastly. Nobody on New Jersey had a shot of stopping him, and his 32 points on 20 shots was what propelled us to the win. I'm doing the math off the top of my head, but a 32 point effort on 20 shots would qualify as a 63% true shooting percentage, right? Crazy.
- This game had a few more possessions than we normally see the Hornets play. It wasn't that one team tried to get out on the fast break more often, but just that the Hornets played their half court sets a little more briskly than normal. There wasn't the normal "send Chris Paul around 5 meaningless screens only to have him catch the ball up top with 5 seconds left" routine. Certainly a bit more enjoyable to watch.
- After Devin Harris' 1-11 performance last time, you knew he'd come out far stronger tonight. I'd contend that he outplayed Chris Paul quite thoroughly, even though Paul's two thefts of him proved to be New Jersey's undoing. Again, it just proves how fleeting this sport can be. You play a terrific game, outplay your counterpart, and then virtually give the game away via a few mistakes at the very end. It happened to Chris Paul against the Lakers, it happened to Devin Harris against the Hornets.
- That's not to say that the Hornets "stole" a game they didn't deserve. A look at the factors above reveals a substantial advantage in rebounding and foul drawing.
- Both teams registered just 11 turnovers in 91 possessions; it was a very clean game. After all the college basketball I watched on Saturday, this was a welcome (and somewhat expected) relief. Not to get on too much of a tangent, but why do people insist on calling college ball more "pure"? If you define pure as massive turnover rates by even the top teams, guys standing around and passing around the perimeter for 30 seconds on a 35 second shot clock, and dribble penetration being the rare exception to the rule... then sure.
- David West didn't settle for the jump shot a lot tonight. I wonder if it's because he didn't have the jumper working, or he just felt the need to be more aggressive. Whatever it was, it worked. His five offensive rebounds were huge, given how many wide open triples we missed.
- Tyson Chandler continued his rebounding tear since returning. 6 more offensive boards against impressive rookie Brook Lopez is nothing to sneeze at. And his CCC and subsequent stare down of the camera man was awesome.
- Vince Carter gets way, way, way too much flak from media and from the fans. What I saw today (and what the stats back up) is a highly efficient scorer, who's perfectly happy to play second banana to Devin Harris and even Yi at points. He was constantly instructing Brook Lopez and Chris Douglas Roberts, and he didn't force a single shot all game. Not one. Say what you will about Vince's past, but he's clearly turned a corner. Tim Duncan openly questioning whether VC would "fit" on the Spurs is ridiculous, and it's simply the Spurs' loss.
- As for Peja.... clearly, if he had been on tonight, this could have been a blowout. But bad games happen. Slumps happen. Nothing about his form has changed, and he's still one of the top three point shooters in the league. It's really easy to fall into the "what have you done for me lately" trap, but we should avoid it for now.
- Our next 7 are against @PHI, DAL, OKC, @ATL, @WAS, @MIL, and @CHI. It might be asking too much, but a 6-1 stretch could really put us into top-2 seed contention again. We get Houston at home at the end of this stretch, before 7 of our next 9 are once again sub .500.