Well, that would have been a nice one to win. But in all honesty, I’m not even that upset (I should be but for whatever reason I’m not). There were a lot of good things to take away from this game but also some bad. Let’s do this…
This was a game of two halves but not in a terribly bad way. In the first half the Hornets matched the Suns play for play. Emeka Okafor was actively cleaning up the offensive glass with everyone else team-rebounding the defensive side. Marcus Thornton was playing with a lot of maturity. David West, Trevor Ariza and Willie Green chipped in with 6, 7 and 7 respectively giving us a 53-53 tie at the half. Then Okafor got hurt. Watching the replay of the injury you can see him mouth “something popped.” You know how everyone who follows the Hornets says we need a backup big man? This game showed why.
Marcin Gortat has 19 of his career high 25 points in the second half as the Hornets just had no answer for him. When the Hornets tried to stop Gortat’s dominance in the paint the Suns just kicked the ball out, leading 4 three-pointers in the third quarter and an 8 point Suns lead.
But the Hornets stayed resilient, the defensive rotations tightened up and the Suns missed all 8 threes they attempted in the fourth quarter. Towards the end of the game Ariza started defending Nash and a Chris Paul three cut the deficit to 5. After Ariza stole the inbounds Paul was fouled on a three point attempt and made all the free throws. Vince Carter stepped out of bounds on the ensuing inbounds pass and all of a sudden the Hornets had a chance. Thornton’s layup was blocked by Grant Hill (more on that in a bit) the ball ended up in CP3’s hands. Unfortunately, he was sandwiched between two Suns and missed the shot. And that was the end of that.
I’m going to skip the < > = tonight and just jump into some observations:
-Let’s start with Chris Paul. He was awesome tonight. 26 points on 14 shots, 12 assists and no turnovers. He came through when it mattered hitting the three with 18 seconds left and then all free throws after (he was 10-10 on the night). Fans have been clamoring for him to take the final shot and he did tonight…he was just stuck between two defenders and I doubt Jordan would have made that.
He also had an awesome drive for the and1 to end the half. The big complaint I have is in the second quarter he had a chance at an open three and instead passed the ball to Ariza. Do I really need to tell you who has the higher three-point percentage?
-Okafor was playing great until he got hurt. All of his rebounds were offensive and he was just an animal trying to clean up the misses. Hopefully the injury is not that serious. Just avoid those defensive three second calls, big guy.
The fact that the Hornets were in this game without him is a great sign. If the defense and offense had played slightly better they would have won.
-I really liked what I saw out of Marcus Thornton tonight. I mentioned yesterday that he plays fairly reckless at times but tonight he trimmed that down. In the second quarter he had a great drive and kick out pass to Willie Green who made the open three. Then, a few minutes later he showed us the drive and dish to Okafor for a dunk. Normally, he tries to take a tough shot but tonight he was trying to find a teammate with a better look. He also grabbed 10 defensive rebounds. I’d say he deserves a start with how bad Marco Belinelli has played but his scoring ability is much more important off the bench.
Grant Hill’s block on Thornton was goaltending. The ball had already touched the glass off the backboard and Hill’s finger tips touched it right after. Yes it should be called and was a mistake but no ref will make that call—even Lebron James would not get that one.
-I kind of liked what I saw out of David Andersen. I’m not saying the Hornets should run plays for him or anything crazy like that, but he did have a nice hook shot near the end of the first quarter and moved well on offense. He also grabbed 6 rebounds and finished +12 on the night.
-Ariza again didn’t have the best game, letting Vince Carter score 12 points in the first half. But he settled down and Carter didn’t score after the break. I did like when he was matched up on Nash at the end. His length caused the Suns point guard problems and prevented them from closing the game out.
-Defensive rotations are not as sharp as they were in the beginning of the season. Need to tighten those up and not leave shooters open on the perimeter.
-Wow, do we need a backup big man. Get on that, Dell Demps.
-Jarrett Jack, what are you doing taking that jumper with 3 minutes left in the fourth? That’s going to get blocked almost every time.
-Follow me on twitter: @nolajake
Next game is Tuesday at home against the Wizards. I smell a big rebound win, and it’s not like the Wiz win on the road.
I was trying to find a video of the goaltend but can’t so I’ll leave you with this…