Tuesday , Apr , 29 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

New Orleans Hornets Eliminate Mavs with 99-94 Win

New Orleans Hornets Eliminate Mavs with 99-94 Win

Woooo! We did it!!

Hats off to all the Hornets for an amazing game and an amazing series. Virtually every analyst out there doubted that we could defeat the Mavs, wrote off our regular season as flukey, said we would be doomed by playoff inexperience. Charles Barkley said that if there was one guarantee he could make, it was that New Orleans wouldn’t get past the first round. Only 3 out of 8 ESPN writers picked the Hornets to win the series (all three said 7 games). Mark Cuban went as far as to call out Chris Paul about his “toughness.” Is 24, 15, and 11 tough enough for you, Mark?

Chris Paul just put up 24.6 ppg, 12.0 apg, 5.6 rpg, and 2.0 spg for the series to humble his veteran, experienced, “knows how to play the game” counterpart Jason Kidd. I feel giddy thinking about how much this guy is going to improve in the coming years. What more can he possibly do? 30/15/10? I don’t know. Paul’s performance overshadows David West coming into his own in Games 4 and 5. The Mavericks had no answer again for West, who hit 10 of 17 shots on the way to 25 points. He let the game come to him, deftly passing out of the post to set up teammates when he couldn’t get a look himself. West has developed so much as a player this year that his isolation plays have come to be just as reliable as Chris Paul’s. If there were any lingering doubts as to the validity of West’s All-Star selection, you need look no further than this series.

Of course, the play of Jannero Pargo deserves its own paragraph. After dealing with Jason Kidd’s potentially career-ending foul in the classiest of ways, Jannero ripped Kidd’s (and other Dallas PG’s) defense to shreds. For the second straight night, he carried the bench on his shoulders with an assortment of tough layups and even tougher jumpers. His defense on Jason Terry was so invaluable that Byron Scott elected to leave him on the floor instead of sending in Bonzi Wells. Some people will certainly be wondering why Wells got as few minutes as he did in the series, but I’m not reading anything into it. This might sound strange, but the series wasn’t as physical as the numerous altercations made it seem. This was especially true on the offensive end for the Hornets where Dallas simply didn’t body up ball handlers as much as it should have. The next series with either San Antonio or Phoenix will be far more physical, and we’ll have an extremely fresh Bonzi Wells to throw at them. It’s simply another example of outstanding coaching by Byron Scott.

Jerry Stackhouse’s outstanding series merits its own paragraph. The versatile swingman broke out and absolutely torched the Hornets with his 12 for 38 in 5 games. He came up with a clutch, game-changing airball down the stretch, had his bench role usurped by Devean “Please Don’t Trade Me!” George, had his dignity smashed to the ground in the form of two massive Tyson Chandler blocks, and got himself thrown out with a move even a rookie wouldn’t be stupid enough to try. And those are merely the Game 5 highlights. Hey Jerry, go ahead, keep calling Coach Scott a sucker. You’re the only one who doesn’t realize how funny that is. 

I still remember Baron Davis throwing the ball up court to Jamaal Magloire with the buzzer going off in the background, and Tracy McGrady walking off dejectedly on his home court. It’s been a while since that last series win in 2002, but it’s still just as awesome to experience that feeling once again.

[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattmc89/]