Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hornets-Mavs -- Game 2 thread

Hornets win, 127-103. They're quicker and more assertive, and numerous players are getting whatever shots they want, whenever they want them. The last six quarters, during which New Orleans has scored 191 points (nearly 32 per quarter) have looked a lot like stretches of the GS series last year. The Mavs are offering no resistance ... to anything.

Kidd just let the ball roll before picking it up in order to save a few precious seconds. There are seven minutes remaining in the game, and the Mavs are down 19. They need more than time.

The only thing keeping me from throwing something at the TV is Bill Raftery. He should announce every game simultaneously.

Mavericks back within 16 with 10 to play. The game isn't over, except we aren't watching it. TNT has switched to the third quarter(!!!) of the Magic-Raptors game. Who is making the decisions back in Atlanta?

Another huge quarter for New Orleans, which leads by 20, 99-79, after 3. Hornets shooting 64 percent.

Peja again, Paul again. Hornets, 97-72.

The Mavericks, down 24, have this lineup on the floor right now: Brandon Bass, Jason Terry, Devean George, Malik Allen, Antoine Wright.

Peja swishes back-to-back 3-pointers. Hornets lead, 80-58. Best shooter in the NBA, best form, best release. Good thing someone changed his calendar. Peja thinks it's still the regular season. Shhh.

Chandler just picked up his third foul three minutes into the third quarter.

Avery Johnson's locker room huddle ended with "1-2-3, defense!" Let's see.

The Hornets are a very smart offensive team. It starts with Paul, but the entire team takes advantage of mismatches. When West is free on the block, they find him. When Peja runs to his spot-ups for 3s on the break, they find him. When it's time to push, they do. When it's time to pull it out, play 2-for-1, they do. New Orleans leads, 67-51, at the break, shooting 67 percent with 18 assists and three turnovers.

Teams treading water a bit. Hornets still up 10, less than two to go before halftime.

With Paul resting on the bench, the Mavs go zone. This is odd. Avery is saying here that the Mavs can't stop the Hornets even with Pargo running the show. They have to go gimmick. Peja hits a 3-pointer. Hornets, 45-33.

When teams try and take advantage of small guys in the post with non-post players, I wouldn't double right away. Make someone score the ball at least once. Case in point: The Mavs have posted Paul with Kidd, who isn't looking to score from the post at all, and Stackhouse, who hasn't attempted a shot from there either. Hornets are bailing them out by sending soft doubles, which are producing unnecessary open shots.

Another huge first quarter for the Hornets, who lead 39-29. Paul has six points on 3-for-3 shooting, eight assists and zero turnovers. New Orleans is shooting 71 percent.

Brandon Bass is now sprinting to double-team Paul, once just past midcourt, the other time in the backcourt. Paul is making all the correct reads, giving it up early, lobs to Chandler, finds to West for uncontested 17-footers. If there is a defense for Paul, who already has seven assists, the Mavs haven't found it yet. Hornets, 27-19, 2:51 left in the first.

Hornets lead 12-7, 4-plus minutes in. Very little has changed from Game 1. Paul is playing under control, and the Mavs haven't revealed anything yet that indicates a change in philosophy of defending him. Remember: After Paul, Tyson Chandler is the Hornets' most important player in this series. He's active early with six points and three rebounds and zero fouls. The Mavs won't win this series if Chandler is on the floor for 40 minutes a night.