A few defensive stops and some decent ball control make this team a lot better. Not RickoT better, but better nonetheless. I don't feel like getting all paragraphy up in this B, so I'll hit the bullet points to save time, effort, and the world as we know it.
- Rotations: It's a rare occasion where I commend Eddie Jordan for anything at all. BUT. He made some relatively smart decisions towards the end of the game that gave us a good chance to win. The best one was playing Jrue Holiday for 23 minutes, including the last 14 minutes of the game without a rest. He kept Dalembert in for the better part of the game to neutralize Emeka Okafor on the glass, and inserted Carney for Iverson at the end of the game when Peja Stojakovic bricked a defended three. While it seems like an easy decision to us to take AI out for the more defensively-minded Carney, it has been the failure to make substitutions like these at the end of the game that's handed us more losses than we should have.
- Defense: Discussed (and disagreed) heavily in the game thread, the defense is what put us over the top tonight. Strong 1st and 4th quarters on D allowed us to have our typical mid-game lapses that we know and love. That goes back to the rotations and reliance on guys like Jrue, Andre, Brand, and Dalembert and less time for Speights, Lou and Thad than they are accustomed to. Brand led the charge with a +13 in his 33 minutes, primarily due to good defense on David West, who shot only 6-17 on the night. Jrue and his shaky psyche (say that five times fast) were charged with the task of covering (you're still saying shaky psyche, I knew it) Chris Paul, who came into the game shooting 50% from the field and 20 points per game. The youngest player in the NBA (and some of Lou Williams) held him to just 13 points on 5-13 shooting. Add him to the list of above average guards that Jrue has shut down. Kid's got a future. But, our opponent once again shot over 40% from beyond the arc. They never cease to amaze me. However, we didn't lose to a game winning three. Go figure.
- Rebounding: This could've gone with defense, but I wanted to stick to positives there. Our rebounding tonight was pretty bad. While Dalembert held his own grabbing 14 boards, Holiday was the only one with more than 5 (did I mention he's good?) and the Hornets reeled in 19 offensive rebounds. That's unacceptable. It also led to 91 shots for the Hornets tonight. That's what people in the biz would call a buttload. Fortunately, New Orleans only hit 37 of them to the tune of a poor 41% from the field (stark difference from the 48% our opponents average -- good for 3rd worst in the league). Our guard rebounding is what really hurt us the most. Usually they pull down more than most backcourts but aside from Jrue, the combination of Iverson, Williams and the Round Mound of Rebound
Charles BarkleyWillie Green only came down with 4 rebounds in a total of 72 minutes. Subpar.
- Also, big ups to Sam for another solid game, playing within himself, getting some nice blocks, and nailing the game winning hook shot with 26 seconds left. After Peja's miss, Iguodala, who many have criticized for not "having it" (bollocks), sunk two big free throws to seal it. Good win boys. But what's even better: the Pacers beat the Raptors! So we don't lose any ground in the lottery sweepstakes. Hooray.
- Lastly, I'd like to give our collective genitalia a collective stroking for pumping out 327 comments (as of this posting). That's the most we've ever had on a game thread by far, and second in the history of this site only to the 2009 Draft. And all without JSams, who sadly missed this night due to a scholarly obligation. School is for fools, Jordan. Let's keep it up, faithful posters.