Hornets Hype

In a basement. In our pajamas.

Archive for January, 2010

After that amazing overtime win last night… after winning 8 out of 11 on the road in January… after the way the team came together and showed all that fight… after scrapping and clawing back into a playoff spot…

I give up.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=ys-paulsurgery013110&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Please feel free to commiserate in the comment thread, and I shall join you when I come down from this ledge. Which may not be … ever.

From this article posted yesterday, detailing the following exchange between Chris Paul and a Portland locker room attendant:

CP: There’s cheese on this chicken sandwich. I’m allergic to cheese.

PLRA: You didn’t say no cheese.

CP: I didn’t think I had to say no cheese. It’s a chicken sandwich.

PLRA: (Picks up menu) It says right here it comes with cheese. Wouldn’t you expect cheese on a hamburger?

CP: No, I would expect cheese on a cheeseburger. A hamburger shouldn’t have cheese. Neither should a chicken sandwich. I’ve been dealing with this my whole life.

PLRA: Do you want to order something else?

CP: Do you have chicken strips?

PLRA: Yeah.

CP: Can you make sure I get them without cheese?

It’s the only explanation for last night (38-9-6) :-) … Shout out to @artgarcia_nba for the link.

Oh and HEY, if you didn’t know, the Hornets are in the playoffs! If the season ended today they’d be the #8 seed, after stringing together an 11-4 January with a pretty tough schedule.

I Must Have This

By on January 27, 2010

This CP3 Mardi Gras bobblehead NEEDS to be in my life. Seriously. It’s not optional. They’re giving away 10,000 on Feb. 5 against the Sixers.

I am even going to bust out the rarely used “Dead Sexy” mood, just for this. Because this bobblehead is dead sexy.

CP3 Mardi Gras Bobblehead

CP3 Mardi Gras Bobblehead

Wednesday Linkz

By on January 27, 2010

The Hornets May Have Won the Battle But Lost the War– a post on the Dime blog about the Hornets salary moves. With input from me, Hornets 247, and At the Hive. Oh, and Bonus!Ranty Comments by me, I guess. Sorry about that. This is one of my very favorite topics for ranting, as you well know. But props to Dime. Noticed how they went and actually asked Hornets media & blogs. Amazing concept, that.

New Orleans rookie Marcus Thornton seizing the moment– According to the TP, there are rumors (which he denies) that Marcus Thornton told some kids at LSU over the summer he’d be starting by midseason. Ha. I said so too. Guess we’re both right.

Buckets doesn’t make the Rookie Team — kinda lame but not surprising. He’s averaging 9.7 pts-2 rebs on 43% shooting in 19 minutes, way less than the minutes some of those kids are getting to put up their numbers. I wasn’t that impressed with either Flynn or Curry (ugh, watch me say that and he goes off on us tonight, haha). I mean, you can’t really argue with any of the rookies who made it, but I will say it’s too bad Byron Scott hurt Thornton’s chances by not playing him early. I wonder, though, if it’s harder to make a team like this as a pure scorer– even a very efficient one– when you’re not putting up significant numbers in any other categories. All those point guards have numbers in the assists column too. Marcus’ stats per 36 are 18.2 pts-3.7 rebs– some of those other kids already play 36 and aren’t close to that.

But! He’s #5 in the NBA.com Rookie Rankings this week! — Go figure.

This column from Mark Monteith at SI.com fails so hard at containing real facts (especially Okafor versus Chandler) and following a chronological timeline of what actually went down that it made me weep tears of pure sarcasm. Or wait, is that not possible? Try to spot the two places he  contradicts himself. Let’s make it a fun game!

What We Believe In

By on January 26, 2010

Introducing... your new Hornets backcourt

Introducing... your new Hornets backcourt

Last night was huge for TEAM THORNTON. Huge. Hornets Hype’s favorite rookie (Can we make him our mascot? We could put him in the banner… would that be weird? No, OK. It would) came crashing out of the gates in his first NBA start, putting up 9 points in the first 5 minutes of the first quarter. He would quiet down after that, finishing with 19 on 8-12 shooting, but he and Darren Collison, in that crazy fast three-headed guard lineup that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, played a huge part in 10-1 run the Hornets went on in the last three minutes to squeak out yet another close game over the Blazers.

Highlights of Lil Buckets’ big debut night included a sick alley-oop from Chris Paul and a flagrant 1 foul when he elbowed Rudy Fernandez while fighting through a screen (whoops). Portland fans, feel free to come call me a Dusche Bagel, but he totally Euro-flopped. He whipped his head back and dropped like a rock, even though the replay showed Marcus’ elbow never even touched his chin. (Not the first elbow, the second one. Leading with the elbow into the chest was a foul, though flagrant is a stretch.) But enough on the foul because it didn’t end up being an issue; it was a solid debut and my favorite part of the night was the big smile on Thornton’s face when CST interviewed him postgame. Or maybe it was the rare smile on Chris Paul’s.

These close games, wow. WOW. When was the last time the Hornets were in a game that didn’t come down to the very last possession? (I checked. It was when they lost to the Spurs five games ago. Before that it was the Clippers win. People, that’s only TWO games out of the 14 they’ve played in January that weren’t close. And neither of them were by more than 8 points either. Between this team and the Saints the other night, I’m going to develop weird hand tremors and a heart condition.)  But you know what? Don’t look now, but this team has become fun to watch. They’re coming out scrappy, and they’ve fashioned themselves into ice cold closers. With the West as crazy as it is– the Hornets are currently in a three-way tie for 9th place but are only 2 games out of 4th– they’re going to need these close games.

And finally. Chris Paul.

You know, I was going to elaborate, but what’s the point? Is there a verb that even describes what Chris Paul did last night? Or is he himself the verb? Yes. That’s what we’ll go with: The Blazers were Chris Pauled.

UPDATE: Lil Buckets shoutout on The Basketball Jones today! It’s at the very end after the Whoa Boy (which– I’m just gonna ruin it for you– is Chris Paul).

Previewing… With the Blazers

By on January 25, 2010

I did a lil Q&A, a lil pregame fun, with Sophia from the Portland Trailblazers blog Bust a Bucket. You should go check out my answers over there, although they would have been a bit different had I known Devin Brown was going to be traded today. You should also go solely to witness that most brilliant and rare of creatures that is not one but two female NBA bloggers previewing a game. The concept is mind-blowing, I know. :-P

A Gratuitous Picture of Brandon Roy, who someone-- I am not saying it's me, but you know, someone-- might have a small crush on

A Gratuitous Picture of Brandon Roy, who someone-- I am not saying it's me, but you know, someone-- might have a small crush on

TT6: What’s the deal with Brandon Roy’s on-again off-again hamstring injury? Is it correct that he’s not playing tonight?

Sophia: Roy remains ineligible to play tonight. He was reported to undergo PRP Therapy last week and he’s still recovering from that. The team has been fairly mum about the actual injury and the severity, however he was diagnosed with a hamstring strain. He missed a game, then returned to play, then went back with trainer Jay Jensen to get a second opinion during the team’s most recent road trip. Needless to say, this particular injury and the management of the situation has caused many fans consternation. What IS the deal with Brandon’s hamstring? No one quite knows.

TT6: How have the Blazers managed to keep winning with two centers going down with season ending injuries?

Sophia: There really are a number of reasons. Before Roy was sidelined with the injury he was playing phenomenally in December and January. He had a bumpy start to the season in some respects but really turned up the intensity and took on more scoring and assisting responsibilities when first Greg, then Pryzbilla went down. He showed why he deserves to be an All Star. Martell Webster has been shooting lights out for the last month or so. His confidence is soaring. He’s been active defensively (sometimes he gets lost on that end) and has been rebounding more. He’s really stepped up with the extra minutes he took on. The depleted bench includes Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph and [sometimes] Patty Mills. Dante is my absolute favorite role player. He has played extremely well and is becoming an excellent defender.  He has shown the ability to play well against opposing 3′s and 4′s. Defensively he’s absolute money , he’s rebounding monster and he can shoot. By far the best surprise of the season. Jerryd Bayless got a couple starts and has seen increased playing time. He has had some monster games and is a real spark-plug. He has had some crappy games, but overall he has really stepped up his play as well. The work he put into his shot this past summer shows and he has logged more assists and rebounds than many thought he was capable of.  I cant forget Juwon Howard either. He has been absolutely key to dealing with the “no center” situation. He’s played many minutes and is rebounding, defending and adding a little toughness and attitude that Joel would have provided last season. I wont go all out and say Howard is the reason the team has kept afloat, but he’s a big part of it.  So ok, tons of people have stepped up. Any Blazer fan can argue that any one guy has done something that is the key to keep the Blazers winning, but truly its been a total team effort. Every night they have played like they have nothing to lose with this “us against the world” attitude. I love it.

TT6: Who have been Portland’s ‘”X-factor” players this year?

Sophia: OOOOOH ! I really want to write “Dante Cunningham” for this but that isn’t honest. I would have to say Brandon Roy. He’s our All Star and is AWESOME! He is Mr. 4th Quarter, Mr. Fearless Leader , Mr. Play-When-Injured. He’s been this team’s everything (cue love music)  and without him this season or long term, I shudder to think what the Blazers become.

Just kidding.

Only, not about the Devin Brown part. The Hornets are apparently finalizing a deal that should send him to Chicago for backup big Aaron Gray, who may not be good but at least he’s a seven footer, later today. Despite what you might think of me, I do feel sorta bad for Devin. He played hard, and he played above expectations. Plus, who will I mercilessly hate on? But the future doesn’t wait, and Devin Brown isn’t the future of this team.

Is Marcus Thornton’s first career NBA start a lot closer than we thought? Like, in about six hours?

WHO DAT!

By on January 25, 2010

We just had to say congratulations to New Orleans’ other team. Geaux Saints!

And, um, there might be a small, temporary change in the header…

Notice My Rookie

By on January 22, 2010

Man, y’all know there isn’t much I love more than Marcus “Lil Buckets” Thornton and James Posey. But you know what might be an exception? A post all about Buckets and Pose. Which this SB Nation one by Andrew Sharp is. Is Thornton a future “glue guy”? He’s certainly got the hustle to be, even if the biggest knock on him is that he doesn’t have the height.

Watching the end of the Hornets-Grizzlies game last night…  I noticed Marcus Thornton, the rookie guard for New Orleans. He’s surprisingly solid, and has been playing well all season long. Last night in the fourth quarter, in a close game, he didn’t look out of place on the floor. Between Chris Paul and James Posey, there was Thornton in the backcourt, more than holding his own.

For a rookie drafted in the second round, that’s a pretty serious endorsement. And while it may not happen in New Orleans, there’s a good chance that Marcus Thornton will wind up making serious contributions to a contender down the line. He’s that good. Or more specifically, he’s good at specific things that are important.

Really, I think the thing I love most about loving a rookie is not knowing who he’s going to be. There are players like Emeka Okafor who’ve put up the same stats every year of their career from the get-go. And there are guys who show flashes as rookies, only to disappoint. And then there are players whose numbers are only all right, until a switch inside of them flips and they suddenly “get it” two or three years in.

Today Thornton is averaging 9-2 in 18.5 minutes. He’s been in double figures for seven straight games, after that December rough patch, and he’s recently graduated to seeing crunch time minutes. So I guess the question is, has Thornton “gotten it” yet? What’s his ceiling? We ended up getting a sweet seat upgrade for the Grizzlies game the other day, and were pretty low down in 111, right behind the Hornets bench. From there it was interesting to see how much time the coaching staff is spending talking to Marcus. Chris Paul, commendably, is also always in both the rookies’ ears. Thornton is only about 6-3 but he crashes the boards more aggressively than most of our guards (and forwards, really). He has one of the quickest releases on the team, hustle, and good instincts. And he plays like he’s got absolutely no fear. I’ve been reading “if only he was three inches taller, he could be our shooting guard for the future.” With all due respect, that’s kind of B.S. coming from fans of a team that is led by the best small guard on the planet. How much of success is raw physical tools, and how much is drive? You can’t quantify that, and Buckets happens to have one of the best role models for doing amazing things with the size you have.

You keep that chip on your shoulder, Buckets. Draft position ain’t nothing but a number.

Big Game Pose & Lil Buckets

Relearning How to Be A Basketball Fan

By on January 21, 2010

Basketball is a game of passion.  Of swings.  Of runs.  Of jumping onto your feet and screaming at the top of your lungs with eighteen thousand people and clapping excitedly under the thud-thud-thud of arena loudspeakers.  It’s easy to get swept up in being a fan, in celebrating every basket and barking at every bad call.  But it’s too much.  The swings are too high-low and the runs too inevitable.  To get personally involved in each ebb and flow only leads to blown blood vessels and broken remote controls bounced off carpet too close to innocent bystanders.

Picture by Layne Murdoch, Getty ImagesIt’s easy to enjoy the game when CP3 and DX are hitting shots at will, kicking it out to Peja and MoPete for 3 after 3 like a torrential downpour, and all residual possessions are alley oops to Tyson Chandler.  It’s easy to be a fan when you break the franchise record for wins in a season and are a few whistles away from the Western Conference Finals.  It gets a little harder when injuries flare up and the wins don’t come quite so easily, when your big free agent acquisition isn’t really the “final piece,” your bench implodes and collapses into an abyss of statistical hell, and Championship dreams fall flat.  It’s even harder when you start the next season 3-9 and start wondering what happened to all the big easy buckets and blowout wins.  Suddenly, the trolls have crawled out from under their bridges and are out telling you how your team sucks, and even people on your own boards and blogs are calling to blow it all up.  As if that would make your team any better.

This is what tests your fandom and reminds you that basketball is a hard fought game where nothing comes easy.  This is what tells you you need to relearn how to watch basketball.  How many adverse runs have I watched from the couch and told ticktock6 to calm down, this is a game of runs?  Easy to preach, but putting it into practice comes harder.  For sure, this season, more than any other in recent years, has reminded me that basketball is a 48:00 minute game; no matter how ugly, no matter how frustrating, the only thing that will matter is the W.  When the playoff seedings are made, nail-biters against bad teams don’t count any more than statement games against division rivals; and blowout losses don’t hurt any more than the games we gave away, only to come back by fighting hard at the very end, only to blow any way.  So you remind yourself that the runs don’t matter, only who’s left standing at the end; any one run, most nights, will not break the game.

Basketball has the unique quality, unlike most major sports, that 90% of the time, that one big play will NOT decide the game, just get another two points amidst the ninety-some others.  The nastiest block at best takes away one possession, among eighty or so others.  So what you teach yourself is to celebrate what you can, and to be patient the rest.  You relearn the swell of the game and remember how a team that looks horrible for a 2-14 stretch over 3:47 can call a timeout, make a key substitution, and quiet the crowd while regathering and then come back with a renewed intensity on defense, better ball movement on offense, and just flat-out more go-get-itness, and suddenly reverse that deficit just as fast as they gave it up.

The truth is, more games than not, math works; the team that averages 40% from the field, but comes out shooting 60% in the first half, is often enough going to shoot 20% in the second half.  It’s not an exactitude for every game, but as a typical balance, holds true.  So as a fan, you have to brace yourself for all this.  To be patient.  To wait until the final buzzer, because virtually no lead is insurmountable, no run is unanswerable, and every swing of the pendulum one way will inexorably fall back the other.

Games like tonight’s home game against Memphis are precisely this kind of game, where we ran out ahead early, but Memphis answered.  Where our second unit blew open the lead and the starters came back and held onto it, up by ten at the half.  Then, incredulously, we started out the third, on our home floor, giving up a horrible 8-27 run, getting absolutely abused by a very good Grizzlies’ team.  Game over?  You could hear someone in the crowd muttering that this would be two home losses in a row.  But then a Hornets run trimmed a ten-point Grizzlies’ lead to three heading into the fourth.  Whatever optimism that may have engendered, however, was tempered as the tide swelled again and Memphis pushed it back to nine, deflating the crowd.  That is, until Darius Songaila hit a highly unlikely contested three as the shot clock went off, shrinking the deficit again to a much more manageable six.  But again, Memphis outworked the Bees until its lead was back up to ten, forcing the Hornets to call a time out.  A few minutes later, Zack Randolph at the line can make it ten again, with only four and change to go; yet, after missing the second, Hornets get the rebound and Chris Paul rallies the troops, getting in everyone’s grill on both ends of the floor, and after a relatively quiet three-and-a-half, just flat-out goes nova: scoring 6 points, grabbing 1 rebound, and diming 3 assists in a five-possession span over barely two-minutes.  Game over?  Hornets win?  Hardly.  Still two-and-a-half left and Memphis fought back like devils and forced the Hornets to earn it.  But they did.  Hornets make the last shot with 0.8 to go and fight off Memphis’ final scripted play.  Finally, the game swells to an end.

So, after becoming spoiled by success, I’ve had to relearn how to watch the game.  But it’s been worth it.