After getting down early two days ago against the Spurs, the Hornets came out swinging and saw themselves on top after quarter one (31-24) and quarter two (64-54). But a brutal run by the Grizzlies in the third quarter had our guys on the ropes at the end of the game. Looking at the quarters individually, the Hornets played (1) really well, (2) pretty well, (3) terribly, and (4) well.
A fairly solid effort across the board secured this one for the good guys. Chris Paul started with a quiet night and then did plenty of damage in the final quarter to then finish with 21 points and 13 assists. David West also put up 21 and 13 (points/rebounds, of course). Emeka's statline (12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks) was kept in check due to a mere 30 minutes of play for the big man. Peja nailed a couple of 3s that got the fans roaring, and he finished with 18 points on the night. As for the fifth starter... Devin didn't impress. But Marcus Thornton had a wonderful game. When he was on the court, it seemed like he was all over the place. He finished a couple of nice fast breaks, knocked down a 3 pointer, and played good defense. Really enjoyed the rook out there tonight.
More thoughts after the jump...
As mentioned above, the Hornets nearly threw the game away in the 3rd quarter... letting the Grizz go on a 14-0 run. I'll be honest: it really looked like we were gonna lose this one. The Grizzlies came back from the break and simply could not miss. Meanwhile, the Hornets couldn't buy a shot: our guys didn't make a jump shot until about 9 minutes into the quarter (with just over 3 minutes to go, D-West knocked down a jumper as the shot clock was running out).
That David West jumper started a 10-4 Hornets run to close the quarter and pull the home team back within one possession. Following a rocky start to begin Quarter 4, the Hornets chipped away at the lead. Thanks to Zach Randolph and Jamaal Tinsley (what?!), Memphis pushed the lead up to 8 points and forced the Hornets to take a timeout to think about what they'd done. Luckily, Jeff Bower riled up his players and inspired them to play with a decent bit of passion.
For the second half of the fourth quarter, the Hornets applied great defensive pressure and were able to snag some key rebounds and pilfer the ball a couple of times to give themselves several easy baskets on fast breaks. The game remained tight the entire time and wasn't decided until the final inbounds pass from Jamaal Tinsley didn't make its way to OJ Mayo.
That final play was set up after James Posey put the Hornets in the lead, 113-111. CP3 put the home team up by 3 with his two free throws before Rudy Gay knocked down a 3 pointer at the top of the key to tie it with a little more than 6 seconds to go. On the ensuing play, the Hornets definitely wanted to go to Chris... but couldn't get a good look. Instead the ball went to Posey, and Big Game James lived up to his name. Realizing that time was running out, he drove to the basket and banked in a layup while getting fouled. He missed the free throw, giving the Grizz a chance to tie or win with just under a second to go. Thankfully, the visitors didn't have anyone on the floor to provide heroics.
Some other notables...
- Zach Randolph deserves to represent the Western Conference in the All-Star Game. Seriously. He's averaging 20.7/11.5 and shooting better than 50% on FGs. Also, you might've noticed the Grizzlies are actually winning since his arrival.
- One of the referees was accidentally tripped during the first quarter. OJ Mayo was defending on the baseline, and the referee ran into Mayo's leg and hit the court hard. He stayed on the ground for a few seconds, and the other officials paused the game. After the injured ref got his bearings, he left the game for a while before returning to action in the second quarter.
- Julian Wright had a beautiful spin move that freed him from a defender and gave him a really nice dunk. If anyone can find this online, please post it. Twas quite enjoyable. The people deserve to bask in its glory.
- Memphis always seems to play the Hornets well. In the past three seasons, the teams have had three games decided by exactly 2 points. And two of those games went to overtime.
Next game is Friday at the Timberwolves. Let's hope this weekend holds a pattern of New Orleans teams beating Minnesota teams. Geaux Hornets. Geaux Saints.