Wow. I think that sums up how every Hornets fan is feeling right now. After a week of pretty much everyone in the media discrediting the Hornets chances against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Hornets came out today and stole home court advantage with a 109-100 win.
Going into the game tonight the Hornets looked overmatched at every position except point guard. The team took full advantage of that matchup as Chris Paul shifted into fifth gear and went off tonight. The rest of team played about as well as you could ask with Aaron Gray and Jarrett Jack stepping up off the bench. On the night the Hornets were a model of efficiency, only turning the ball over 3 times (compared to the Lakers 13). We have a lot to talk about tonight.
Before I get to anything else, I need to talk about Chris Paul. Not enough can be said about his performance tonight. 33 points on 11 of 18 shooting, 14 assists, 7 rebounds and 4 (!) steals. Paul set the tone tonight by coming out aggressively and looking to score. He made six shots in the paint and was really looking to attack the basket tonight. If the lane was clogged that meant someone else was open. Today Paul reminded everyone that he is a top five player in the league. Let’s do this after the jump…
The biggest problem for the Hornets was expected to be the Lakers size. The front court of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom is particularly intimidating. Yet the Hornets outscored the Lakers in the paint 52-34. The most interesting part of that stat is that it didn’t just come from the team’s bigs. The Hornets guards attacked the rim all night. Paul had 12 points in the paint and Willie Green and Jack combined for 10 more.
Aaron Gray–as he has at times throughout the season–came up huge tonight. With Emeka Okafor struggling and dealing with fouls, Gray stepped up with 12 points on 5 for 5 shooting. He also caused the Lakers brigs trouble by standing his ground. Late in the 4th quarter he rolled his ankle and had to be taken to the locker room. He finished with an absurd +25 on the night while playing only 20 minutes. Hopefully the injury isn’t too bad because he was a huge piece for the Hornets tonight.
And then there was Jarret Jack. There was a lot of criticism of the trade which brought him down south from Toronto, but take a look at what the Hornets gave up for him. An aging Peja Stojakovic, Jerryd Bayless and a non-lottery draft pick in one of the weakest NBA drafts in recent memory. With how well Jack has played late in the season (remember that Dallas game he won for the Hornets?) and tonight, I’d say we can declare that trade a home run for Dell Demps. Jack finished with 15 points on six shots, 5 assist no turnovers and a +16. He would start of half the teams in the NBA.
The Hans Gruber Villain of the Game Award
Welcome to the club Kobe Bryant! Bryant had a game high 34 points on 26 shots. He also chipped in five assists. Too bad his teammates didn’t help him out that much. He also had 5 turnovers which was more than the entire Hornets team combined. He was also hurt by a fan sitting courtside. Home court advantage?
-I was born in Los Angeles and that is where my entire Lakers supporting family lives. I thought you all might like to see this (edited) text message from my brother:
Just gonna forget this ever happened. Derek Fisher can be so [absolutely] [terrible] sometimes.
-Carl Landry played great. As much as it hurt to lose Marcus Thornton, having Landry to night was worth it. Landry had 17 points on 13 shots and went 5 for 5 from the free throw line. Landry was not intimidated by the Lakers height and attacked the basket from the pivot throughout the game.
-Of Paul’s 33 points, 17 came in the fourth quarter. Hornets fans have been waiting to see him close a game like that all season. Oh and that pass that he fired to Gray? Beautiful.
-Trevor Ariza didn’t exactly have the best offensive game (actually far from even respectable) but his defense on Kobe Bryant definitely helped the Hornets on their way to the win.
-Take a look at this NBA 2k11 preview and see how eerily it predicted game one.
-I want to give Joe Gerrity a huge shoutout for the viewing party Hornets247 had. It was absolutely fantastic and there were no Lakers fans there. It was great to meet 42 of Hornets247, the Purple Hornet and his wife Kim, and Will from At The Hive. Please follow them on twitter at @hornets247, @geauxtootie and @lsuhornet17 respectively. And don’t forget to follow me @nolajake.
Tonight I’m going to leave you with this which reminds me over everyone at the watch party chanting after the Hornets won…