Dallas 99 (46-24) | New Orleans 115 (34-38)
That felt good. I mean, when's the last time we had a game in hand through most of the fourth quarter? (The answer January 27 against the Warriors, in case you care.)
Ok fine, this was only the Hornets' fourth double-digit victory this season, but that doesn't mean this is not a potent squad with the potential to surprise... even if that surprise will have a larger effect on next season than the remaining 10 games.
In case you missed it, some guy named "Chris" started tonight. Everyone was making a big deal out of him despite the fact that he finished the night as one of only 2 Bees on the bad side of +/- (edging out Okafor for second-to-worst). He did land 3 of his 5 shots from downtown, but he only managed 3 assists to his 2 turnovers. I mean... ok, I can't keep this up: it was nice to see CP back on the court. He didn't figure to be a huge part of the gameplan (he only played 21 minutes), but he was out there all the same. He took a little while to get settled, but during the second half (when he scored all of his points), he looked sharp as ever.
Really, the whole crew took a while to settle into place tonight. In the first quarter, we drew iron on every shot (it seemed), and the Mavs went up by 16 on 3 separate occasions. Most of the fans' CP3-induced grins were gone by the end of the first, with the score 32-19 in favor of Dallas. But then, out of nowhere, the Hornets (led by the popular Bucket n' Dimes duo) went bananas in the second quarter, outscoring the Mavs 33-13 to go up by 7 at the half.
Of course, our rookies were only part of the reason for the surge. The other part? The Mavs fell into a big rut, and from 4:26 left in the second to 10:07 left in the third (6:19 overall) the Hornets outscored them 23-0. Just like I said. Bananas.
From there, it was really no contest. The Bees held a commanding lead for the remainder of the game and ultimately took home the (sort of meaningless at this point) W. But hey, if we can't make the playoffs, we ought to try and screw over one of our rivals, right?
Bullets after the jump.
- He's back! He's back! He's back! Not necessarily his stat line (yet), but he was in the game. Chris (who apparently has spent his injured days working on shots from downtown) finished the evening with 11 points, 3 dimes, and 1 steal in 21 minutes. And he went 3 for 5 from deep. No crazy crossovers or impossible floaters (again, yet), but he still found a way to contribute.
- Sorry, DX. Forgot to mention you earlier. David had a nice night adding 25 points (10 for 17,) 6 boards, 10 assists, and 2 steals in 40 minutes. I wanted to complain about him not dunking on Dirk all night, but he showed solid moves in the paint and fantastic passing. The latter point (that would be the 10 dimes) is interesting since it marks a career high. What's more, is it will likely also mark the end of a two month stretch where Mr. West has averaged just shy of 4 assists per contest (double his career figure) sans Chef Paul.
Marcus Thornton = awesome + fearless + more awesome. Finished with 28 points (12 for 22 including 4 of 9 from deep), 4 boards, and 2 assists in 37 minutes. He also had a sweet play in the second where he shook Dirk on a crossover about 17 feet out and then went over and under on a pretty lay in against Haywood. Go find it on the youtubes that all those kids are using. It was good stuff. (But don't look up "Haywood block on Collison." Not good stuff. Not at all.)
- Collison = awesome + speed - a few turnovers. Finished with 16 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals in 35 minutes.
- In case anyone is wondering where/why the Mavs fell apart, you can start with poor performances from their starters. Everyone was under (to waaay under) their season averages in most categories. The Matrix and JET had nice showings, but players like Jason Kidd (6 points on really bad looking 2 for 8 shooting) and Dirk (5 TO in 35 minutes) seem to undo most of their progress.
- You might also throw some credit to the Hornets' surprising not-so-colander-esque defensive showing. Our guys ran hard and gave up very few open looks (relatively speaking). They also forced 18 turnovers and only committed 10 themselves. Which helps.
- All that having been said, the Mavs look great (at the very least, on paper) as a team. Remarkable talent and depth. I wouldn't be surprised if they took the Lakers deep into a playoff series. (I would be surprised if they made the Finals, but it'd be closer to Kevin McCallister with aftershave surprised than Tommy DeVito with a bullet in the back of the head surprised... if that even made sense... which it probably didn't)
Opponent's Take: Mavs Moneyball
Mavericks vs Hornets boxscore