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Jeff Bower Gets First Victory; Hornets Beat Clippers

The Jeff Bower era has produced its first win! It feels good to get back in the win column. As terrible as the Hornets have been, the Los Angeles Clippers proved to be the perfect antidote, yet again.

At 4-8, the Hornets aren't looking great right now. Over the next three weeks though, we get six games against Minnesota (2x), Sacramento (2x), New York, and Milwaukee. None will be absolute roll-over games, and Miami, Phoenix, Atlanta, and the Lakers are the other four opponents... but we're really getting a break here. We could potentially go 6-4 over the next 10, without Chris Paul. If the 3-4 week estimates are anywhere near correct, we could get CP back for a December 14th game at Dallas, or roundabouts. As horrible as it is to see him down for an extended period, there may not be a better time, schedule-wise, for the injury.

And hopefully tonight sets the tone for the team to pick up victories against bad teams. It was an ugly game for sure, but plenty of struggling players stepped up. Chief among those was David West; after arguably the worst game of his 7 year career at Atlanta, West responded with 24/10/5 tonight. Impressively, those 24 points came on just 14 shot attempts. He also finished with 6 offensive boards.

I actually wrote 3/4ths of a post after the Atlanta game, completely bashing West. I'm kind of glad I didn't get to publishing it, after the way he performed tonight. If this LAC game can be the turning point after a poor start, all shall be forgiven.

Let's jump into the bullets:

  • Devin Brown has scored 41 points in 60 minutes against the Clippers this year. He's scored 29 total points in his 100 non-LAC minutes. 
  • For some reason, while watching the game, I got the impression that Baron Davis couldn't miss. In actuality, he went 7-21 and a horrible 3-12 from three point range. Kind of brings back memories of the season he set the all-time 3PFGA mark with us.
  • Rasual Butler had a very nice homecoming (inasmuch as New Orleans is his "home"). He finished with 12 points off 8 shots, and both of his three point attempts splashed right through the net. It's nice to see that he's quickly found a role with the Clippers.
  • Marcus Thornton can fill it up. We're discovering it, game by game. He missed some open shots tonight, but still finished with 12 points on 10 looks. The most impressive thing to me? His release. It's so quick, his shots look wide open even when he simply pulls up on a defender. I love everything he brings to the floor, and it looks like the coaching staff does too. The best part is he really doesn't seem to have found his range from three- it's only going to get better from here. I've got a full post planned for him (including video! yay!)
  • While Buckets was flashier, Dimes had an equally efficient night. 12 points, 6 assists, 2 turns on 11 shots... in his second game as a starter. He wasn't intimidated by Baron Davis; in fact, his defense was a major factor in Davis' struggles. The decision to give Devin Brown late ball-handling privileges annoyed me... but more on this in a second.
  • The defense on Al Thornton was pathetic. Give him a lot of credit for being aggressive. But there's really nobody on the roster that can guard him (which doesn't portend well in terms of other, better players across the league). The coaching staff needed to recognize this and come up with a more comprehensive strategy for Thornton. Some of this, I think, is partially due to the fact that Thornton's crazy lay-up sprees sort of came out of the blue. Even the LAC commentators remarked how it was out of recent character for Thornton. So the Hornets' coaching staff may not have had too much time to adjust. But still, pretty inexcusable.
  • Darius Songaila had yet another productive night. He produced 6 points, making his only three shots. His defense was solid, and he finished as a team high +11 in just 11 minutes on the floor. I really wish the team would utilize him more. Unfortunately, the double guard sets of Bobby Brown/Devin Brown really remove a space from the on-floor five... and Songaila has regularly been the victim.
  • Speaking of Bobby Brown, he was bearable tonight. He continued to jack up shots at crazy rates; tonight, though, he was (a) more wide open than normal and (b) made his shots. 12 points on 8 shots isn't the end of the world. My real gripe is with his boneheaded passing decisions. He routinely passes into traffic, and forget telegraphing; he's e-mailing and texting passes left and right. Four more turnovers today strongly suggests he should be moved to a 2-guard role.
  • Posey, 1-7, 0-3 from three. Yuck.

Overall, good game, ugly win. Going back to Collison, the team really needs to dedicate a full-time ball-handling role to him. As a starter, he's been provided this duty by default. But Devin Brown would regularly "steal" the inbounds while playing with Collison. I counted no fewer than five instances where Collison would come to the inbounder for the ball, only to see Brown take it and race up court. Dimes and Buckets are becoming increasingly more valuable to this offense, and it would be best for the team to acknowledge this process.

And finally, I can't let the Clippers' broadcast team escape without comment. I used to sort of like Ralph Lawler, back in the day (for those that don't watch unhealthy amounts of League Pass, he's the guy that yells "Oh me, oh my!" when something cool happens). But now I really can't stand him or his partner. His partner's this younger guy that manages to pull off the impossible- being a Clippers' homer. Now, I know that most broadcasters are homers. Bob and Gil are prime examples. But where this Clippers' guy differs is in voice inflection and delivery; he just has this really whiny voice, which he uses to, um, whine. A lot. About everything. Secondly, the dynamic between Lawler and Commentator #2 is just.. weird. Lawler often likes to make fun of everything #2 says; for a while it's kind of funny, but when Lawler contradicts/demeans #2 for the eight thousandth time, it's not funny any more and seems kind of mean. And thirdly... Lawler's Law. For those that don't know, Lawler's Law, named for Mr. Lawler, is his "law" that the team that scores 100 first will win. He takes great pleasure in announcing that Lawler's Law is now active and that it cannot be broken, as if it's some great thing he's discovered. In actuality, it's pretty stupid. The team that scores 100 first, by definition, is in the lead. Additionally, the 100 point mark is most often achieved late in games. So Lawler's Law says that a team leading late in a game is more likely to win. Brilliant.

Anyways, that's enough Clipper bashing for one night. Actually, wait, one more. Mike Dunleavy sucks. Okay there. All finished.

Hornets home for the Suns Thursday. Just a hunch: 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Community, or the Office will all provide vastly more entertainment/fun/lack of desire to kill yourself.