Monday , Apr , 28 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

New Orleans Hornets Smash Inferior Mavericks


New Orleans Hornets Smash Inferior Mavericks

Hey Jason Kidd, Pargo isn’t your wife. That’s gotta be one of the most unsportsmanlike plays in recent memory. What happens if Pargo can’t get his hands down in time (he almost didn’t) and slams head first into the hardwood. I shudder to think of it. That last, tiny iota of respect I had for Jason Kidd? Yeah, it’s gone.

The Hornets just went out and smashed an inferior team, plain and simple. All series, we’d been letting Dallas hang around via the free throw line; tonight, we cut off their biggest lifeline, and they suffered. The defense stepped up big time, and as Avery said in his post-game presser, “David West came out in the second half and dominated [them].” West fought back from a terrible first half, stayed within himself in the 3rd, and kept going to his strengths. We’ve seen David succumb to frustration by lowering his shoulder, and committing bad fouls when his shot isn’t on. Tonight represented a huge and underrated step forward for him. While Paul couldn’t really get back to his Game 1 and 2 level of play, David West made sure he did.

The thing that stood out most about our defense was the lateral movement of Hornets’ players. In Game 3, Dallas blew by defenders at will, but tonight they could never get that all important first step. It’s only natural that this resulted in a ton of fadeaway jumpers over outstretched hands and far fewer layups. The Mavericks shot a miserable 36% from the floor (40% eFG) with no regular save Dampier (2-3) shooting above 50% from the floor. The Big 3 for Big D (J-Ho, Jet, and the Whale) went an awful 17-50 from the floor, while our Big 3 (CP, DX, Predrag) went 22-46. That discrepancy alone explains a lot about the win.

Apparently Pargo’s monster game on Friday was a precursor to the bench’s break-out tonight. Pargo didn’t quite score 30, but he impressed me with 6 rebounds. Everything he did on the court, he did with aggression, whether it was pulling up for the transition three, throwing the alley oop lob, or snapping to his feet to challenge Jason Kidd’s foul. Throughout this last week I’ve heard a lot of people calling Pargo the best back up point guard in the league, and my reaction was to laugh. I still think that distinction belongs to a Jason Terry or Leandro Barbosa, but I can at least see where those assertions are coming from. Statistically, Paul outshone him, but Pargo was a +14 on the court to CP’s +12 (Oddly enough, Tyson led the way with +22… which is why I don’t put much stock in +/- numbers unless they’re adjusted).

Byron Scott must have heard my cries of anguish through this blog, because he unleashed Julian Wright big time. Seriously, how good is this guy going to be? He runs the fast break like a young Vince Carter, he stops his crossovers on a dime like Chris Paul, and his jumper is eerily reminiscent of a young Kobe- good but not great. And there’s that whole dunking thing. Here’s what I found most encouraging about this game- our best bench player, Bonzi Wells, goes 1-4 from the field, is a total non-factor, plays just twelve minutes, and we’re still talking about how good the bench was. This second unit has made significant strides since the Wells acquisition. They virtually outplayed a deep Dallas bench that include starter for most teams Jerry Stackhouse, playoff experienced Devean George, and the utterly unguardable Brandon Bass.



[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/67225156@N00/]