Houston 95 (20–14) | New Orleans 99 (15–16)
Well, then. That worked out.
After trailing the Rockets for the vast majority of the game (though never by more than 10 points), the Hornets retook the lead with 47.6 seconds remaining and held on to seal the W.
It was a pretty remarkable turnaround since we all left the arena wondering how the Hornets managed to win a game in which seemingly every other shot was rimming in and out. It also didn't help that the Rockets were constantly hitting shots from deep. It turns out that my in-game observations were only half correct. The Hornets were lousy from deep (3 for 14 in case you were wondering), but the Rockets were merely "good," knocking down 8 of 20. In fact, despite everyone thinking that the Rim Gods were finally exacting revenge on the likes of Devin and Bobby Brown, both teams shot pretty similar percentages from the field.
Actually, all of the counting stats for the teams were similar until you get to the last stat: turnovers. The Hornets took care of the ball really well, giving it away only 7 times. But, as the Dream Shake points out, the Rockets were much more in the holiday spirit and gave the ball back to us a remarkable 16 times.
Looking back, the Hornets did play the Rockets pretty evenly all night. They just always seemed to be one step behind. It was nice to see them buckle down in crunch time and finally start making the stops we fans (and probably Coaches Bower and Paul) had been pleading for all night.
Bullets after the jump.
- CP played a fantastic game: 28 points, 9 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block (only one of the night for the Bees), and 1 turnover in 43 minutes. Chris suffered the most from the in-and-out bug, going 9 for 21 (not a terrible percentage, but not nearly as efficient as the CP3 we know and love). It was painful watching a lot of those rim out, but he got hot at the end, so no complaining here. Oh, and that assist total should have been higher, too. Lots of misses on great passes and the resulting open looks.
- Speaking of passing, the team looked sharp moving the ball tonight. DX and Posey in particular had some nice looks. You won't see evidence of it in the assists column, but the Hornets looked great with the ball (at least before they shot it).
- Emeka also had a standout night (though honestly, it didn't look like it for most of the contest): 14 points on 8 shots, 16 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 0 turnovers in 38 minutes.
- DX did fine-ish considering he sat so much. A line of 15, 5, 2, 1 looks good until you realizee he took 14 shots. Honestly, I thought we were going to be able to own the paint this game, as DX and Mekatron surely seemed able to overpower the likes of Scola and Hayes. West's foul trouble changed that balance and, with the Rockets knocking down shots early, set the Hornets on a shooting frenzy to keep up.
- Peja was all but invisible for this game. In 25 minutes, he managed to go 2 for 7 with 2 turnovers. Jeezum.
- Nice showing from Songalia and Posey. Both saw increased minutes due to DX's early foul troubles and Peja forgetting there was a game tongiht. The two combined for 17 points on 12 shots, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 turnover in 39 minutes of play. Fair play to you guys.
- Luis Scola really impressed me on offense. The guy's got some killer moves in the paint. His rebounding totals were quite underwhelming, but the Rockets seem to let Chuck Hayes clean up most of the mess on the glass (Scola finished with 3 boards, Hayes with 13). But the more important point of discussion here is why haven't we come up with a name for Scola's pseudo-mullet look? I'm shocked that this hasn't happened and that we aren't all calling him something like "The Spanish Mullet" by now. Please leave suggestions in the comments.
- Ariza and Battier were going at it for most of the night. Not sure if there was a lot of miscommunication between them or what, but they seemed to be barking at each other a lot. There were, after all, a lot of crossed wires and missed passes that fed into their inflated TO number. Of course, CP and DX yell at each other all the time, so maybe it's nothing.
- The Bees are trying this new offensive scheme where they bunch 4 guys on one side of the court while the other guy (usu. CP) attacks the lane. Once he's in, the defense usually attempts to collapse on him. Meanwhile, the other Hornets disperse and try to get open for the ball-handler to have a kick-out option. This is all noteworthy since the Hornets previously only had 3 plays: Pick-and-roll, DX iso, and Devin Brown flying all over creation before taking an ill-advised shot. I don't necessarily think we need more "plays" (since we have one of the game's best playmakers who can certainly create on the fly), but it was nice to see some new and creative attempts to score. Hopefully a sign of things to come.
Rockets vs Hornets boxscore
Opponent's Take: The Dream Shake