Coach Paul says, "If you don't start hitting shots, I will kick you, bench you, and then not feel bad about either."
Toronto 92 (19-33) | New Orleans 101 (29-18)
Whew. We needed that.
Not so much to avoid the 5 game skid that might have been (although that would have sucked), but rather to prove to ourselves that we can play basketball without Chris Paul. It isn't always pretty, but tonight it worked.
After leading by ten through the first, the Hornets promptly mailed in the second quarter (to the tune of 32 to 16), relinquishing the lead by halftime. The boys were getting beat bad inside and our outside shots stopped falling all-together.
The Raptor held the deficit to 5 by the end of the third. By the time the fourth quarter started I was preparing myself to write another glum recap... but then the unthinkable happened. We founded our shot. In the fourth quarter alone, the Bees nailed 7 of their 15 treys, including a crazy run with 5 trey in 5 straight possessions.
By the time the fat lady sang four (4!) Hornets had 17 or more points and the Raps were sent packing. Of particular note was James "I found my shot! I found my shot!" Posey who finished with 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers in 33 minutes. You've got to go back six games to find night when Posey's hit more than 1 shot from the field. Good to have you back, Poz.
Of course, while we're commending great performances, we can't forget Peja, who went 7 for 11 from deep and finished with 28 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 0 turnovers in 44 minutes of play.
II suppose it should be noted (if you hadn't caught on yet) that neither team was particularly stellar on defense. We shot 48% from the field, they shot 51%. We shot 47% from deep, they shot 50%.
All in all, it was a solid effort from both teams that was ridiculously close in terms of stats (the treys made all the difference). Got to give credit to both teams for playing hard and leaving it all out on the court despite missing their best players (for the most part). What could have been an ugly and boring game turned out to be an exciting run down the stretch.
Couple of observations before I leave you:
- In case you missed it, Antonio Daniels abso-freakin-lutely dunked on Jermaine O'Neal. Hopefully they'll add that to the collection at You Got Dunked On (the best site for wasting time ever since wasting time was invented).
- Our starting five tonight? Daniels, Butler, Peja, Bowen, and West. Byron wanted to shake things up a bit, but it didn't really work as Bowen collected 2 quick fouls and was sitting after only 4.5 minutes of play.
- Jermaine O'Neal (who had the pleasure of being guarded by Ryan Bowen for a stretch) was nailing shots all night. The guy went 10 for 16 from the field and is probably the reason we got beat in the paint (36 to 24). Unfortunately, he also got blocked by Sean Marks. Twice. Oh, and Antonio Daniels dunked on him. Did I mention that?
- Totally unrelated to the game, but what's up with the Raptors' uniforms? That red stripe at the top back portion of the shorts looks like an awkward belt. And then there's the maple leaf below the back of the collar. I know, I know, they're Canadian. But honestly, who'd settle for a leaf when your alternate logo options include this and this? I will now stop channeling Paul Lukas and talk about basketball.
- This was one of the better officiated games I've seen in a while. I wasn't going to mention that until I realized that both teams were missing their respective "stars". Coincidence or Dick Bavetta? You decide.
- JuJu looked bad tonight. He only played for 4 minutes but still managed to pick up 3 turnovers (including a travel and double-dribble). Byron would have none of it, and Wright found himself riding the pine for the rest of the contest.
- Speaking of riding the pine, what was with the DNP on Hilton? Was he injured or something? I know Byron wanted to shake things up, but how does that equal not playing Hilton at all? We obviosuly pulled out the W without him, but when Bowen and JuJu failed to step up in the first, giving Hilt a shot seemed pretty reasonable, no? Byron disagrees.
- Jose Calderon missed a free throw tonight! Sure, he missed one on Jan 30 against Milwaukee, but he's still 85 for 87 from the stripe this season. I'm pretty sure witnessing a missed free throw from Calderon is more rare than spotting me sober during Mardi Gras season. Speaking of...
Photos courtesy of espn.com
Composed to: The Fall's 458489 A-Sides
The opponent's take: Raptor's Republic