The Hornets came out to play. They pushed the tempo and hit a barrage of jump shots with just about everyone chipping in. Marco Belinelli was hot in the first quarter and Jarrett Jack led the bench on a big run in the second. Dirk was getting whatever he wanted, but aside from J.J. Barea, the rest of the Mavericks were kept mostly in check. Dirk's brilliance and a ton of foul trouble for the Hornet bigs allowed the Mavs to keep it close. In the second half, the tables turned big time. The Mavs cranked up the defensive intensity considerably, and started hitting (wide) open threes. The jumpers that were falling in the first half were more tightly contested, or just not falling for the Hornets. The Mavs kept the intensity up and cruised to a blowout win that had ESPN cutting away with around 5 minutes left. Paul and the starters never got back off the bench after coming out in the third quarter. A few points after the jump before I go watch the two games that will decide the Hornets' playoff future.
Another forgettable performance from Chris Paul. He started off nicely with 5 assists in the first quarter, but struggled to impact the game after that. He finished with 7 points on 9 shots and 8 assists in 25 minutes of play. Hopefully he can transform into the Chris Paul of old when the playoffs start, but I'm not holding my breath.
Jarrett Jack was the best player on the floor for the Hornets, getting 22 points on 15 shots, 7 assists, and only one turnover. He also successfully pulled off the 3pt "rip" move that earned the win for the Hornets last time these teams met. Crafty. The Hornets will need some good performances from Jack to make any noise in the playoffs, so it was good to see a solid effort from him.
Quincy Pondexter had his best game in quite a while, knocking down open jump shots and filling in the gaps on his way to 10 points (4-7, 1-2 3P). Quincy was not hesitating much on his attempts and looked aggressive and comfortable on the offensive end. He was giving his man too much room on the defensive end, and gave up some open 3s, but some quality minutes from the rookie tonight. Perhaps there is hope.
Marco started hot, but cooled late and finished with 14 points on 11 shots.
Landry, Okafor, and Ariza were all sub-par. Need much more from the starting unit.
This is the team we want to match up with in the playoffs? Yikes.
That's it. Go watch the Kings-Lakers game. As of now it is close and Marcus Thornton has 15 points in the 1st quarter. The Grizzles are doing a masterful job at tanking and are down big to the Clippers. Barring something unexpected, the Hornets will be the 7th seed in the 2011 playoffs. If Marcus and the Kings win, the Hornets play the same Mavs that dismantled them tonight. If Kobe and the Lakers prevail, they will face the defending champs (who the Hornets failed to defeat once this season). Great. Pick your poison and cheer accordingly, Hornets fans. Personally, I hope Buckets drops 50 in a Kings win. See you in the playoffs.