by Aggrey Sam
— Hilton Armstrong is a character. He and Julian Wright are apparently the Hornets’ version of Abbott and Costello on this evening.
— Mike James just told me a crazy story about my man Orlando Antigua (assistant coach at the University of Memphis) getting shot during his high school days in N.Y.C.
— C.P. has already memorized, almost verbatim, the Ron Artest rant about Stat Quo that Mutoni linked to yesterday.
— One of the Hornets ballboys is 6-6 1/2.
— Ran into Kings rookie Jason Thompson in the hallway. One of the kids I used to work with in Philly was a freshman teammate of his at Rider last season. Shout out to Mike Ringgold.
— Thompson and Donte Greene both start for the Kings? Interesting. Meanwhile, Rasual Butler is starting for the Hornets. A little investigative work by another member of the press corps yields that Mo Pete had some knee pain during warmups. Glad it wasn’t related to their fight at practice, although it would be ill if Byron let them literally battle it out for the shooting guard spot. ‘Sual gets the first bucket of the game, on a cutting layup.
— With Shelden Williams in attendance, I’m on the lookout for Candace Parker. If I see her, I might as well put a bid in. Contract or not, neither “The Landlord” or myself technically plays basketball anymore.
— C.P. is aggressive early, getting to the line a lot. John Salmons is on him, while Brad Miller is checking David West. On the other end, a Philly matchup with Rasual guarding Salmons.
— West is in the comfort zone early, showing a nice touch from different ranges. Tyson Chandler isn’t, missing an airball on a face-up J from about 12 feet out. Then, the first Crescent City Connection (oop from C.P. to Tyson) of the night. That’s more like it.
— Randy Brown (Bulls reserve on the second wave of chips with Mike) is a Kings assistant. Saw him coaching players at pre-draft camp. Good to see him catch on.
— For some reason, James Posey isn’t the first sub of the game. He does get in with 2:30 left in the quarter, but the man is basically a sixth starter.
— C.P. takes Spencer Hawes to school with a nice step-back move to beat the shot clock. The young fella takes umbrage at being abused and does the same, on a 3, on the other end. His second trey of the night since coming off the pine.
— Hornets up, 29-23, after one.
— Julian Wright starts off the action with a steal and a pull-up J in transition. He plays likes he bleeds Red Bull. Soon after, he gets another steal, which leads to a Dev Brown layup.
— Judging from their body language and how they seem to tune him out, I don’t think a lot of the Kings care for Reggie Theus.
— Hawes is making it rain out here. The Seattle kid wants to make himself feel more at home, I guess.
— The Browns are putting in work. Dev of the Hornets has eight points already. He’s not a point, but the Bees’ stable of long dudes in their second unit (Wright, Posey, especially Butler) share turns handling the ball and Dev can focus on slashing. Bobby of the Kings is knocking down open jumpers. I’m not saying he’s a world beater, but the Hornets should have signed him after he played for them in summer league two years in a row. After the game, he tells me the Kings just came quicker with a deal.
— Hawes has a strong block of Tyson’s point-blank jump hook, then actually pickpockets C.P. from behind, leading to a Bobby Brown layup.
— After looking lost early, Donte Greene is starting to find the rhythm. ‘Cuse fans complained early and often about him shooting too many treys in college, but that seems to be his game in the pros. I’ve seen the rookie from Baltimore play since he was young and always felt his ceiling was Rashard Lewis.
— Funny seeing Lang’s man Shareef Abdur-Rahim as an assistant coach. I remember seeing him play at Cal on TV. Remembering that (let alone Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman before he was exiled; shout out to Ameer Ali) and Randy Brown makes me feel old.
— Speaking of Bobby Jackson is back in the N.O. While he’s very friendly with just about all of the Hornets on the court (Hilton Armstrong might as well be having his convo with BJax interrupted by a basketball game), he’s not making too much of an impact right now. I remember him bursting onto the scene when he played college ball for Clem Haskins in Minnesota. He just had a flashback himself, with a spin through a double team and a nice dish to cutting Greene for a layup.
— West shoots a tech for a defensive 3 call on the Kings. Peja is on the court. I’ve been over this before. He misses.
— C.P. hits a tough step-back over Greene with 0.8 left to put the Hornets up, 54-51, at the half. For once, I stay for the halftime performance, the St. Augustine High School Marching 100 Band. Sight to see, if you’re ever in the N.O.
— The Kings start out hot and go up by three. They eventually stretch it into a 16-4 run.
— The Hornets respond. West gets a steal and finishes with a dunk after a nice give-and-go with Peja in transition. Next, a Tyson block leads to a Peja 3 on the break. Theus calls a timeout after the Hornets knot the score at 69.
–West has 0 boards as of now. Interesting.
— People find Peja’s “Desert Swarm” ’09 ASG promo hilarious. I’m quite sure he wasn’t trying to be funny at all. Neither he nor Jason Thompson seem physically able to breath with their mouths closed.
— When did Beno Udrih get nice? I’m not saying he’s an All-Star, but he’s pretty damn solid. Also, John Salmons is having a nice all-around game.
— Dev Brown hits a 3 to beat the shot clock.
— Both Thompson and Greene have nice floaters/runners for 6-10 dudes.
— Kings are up, 77-76, through three periods. This game is closer than I expected.
— Posey yells louder on the hokey “Get Up!” promo than I thought it was possible for him to speak. If you’ve ever heard the man speak, it’s not much louder than a whisper. Voiceover?
— Maybe Byron’s found something with that much-maligned (by me) secdond unit. ‘Sual with a nice tip-in, Dev Brown with an aggressive drive, Posey with a nice spin move on the baseline. With Hilton and Julian also in the mix, they don’t really have a primary ballhandler, but they do have a lot of size and are playing pretty good D, something the starters haven’t been giving them.
— Julian’s stroke is looking pure tonight.
— After the Hornets start to assert themselves, the Kings strike back with a 8-0 run capped by an and-one by Salmons to go up by a point, 85-84, with about half the quarter gone by. C.P., Tyson and West check back in.
— West muscles up a tough deuce, then hits a 20-footer to beat the shot clock.
— Refs shouldn’t look at fans after they make suspect calls. I’m just saying.
— Bobby Jackson hits two almost identical shots, contested jumpers from the corner, from about the same spot. Beno hits a pair from the line to cap a 9-0 run before C.P. gets an and-one to stop the bleeding.
— Jackson hits yet another shot from about the same spot.
— The t-shirt dance isn’t the same this year. It never will be.
— Hugo, the Hornets mascot, does some unsafe things during timeouts. Here, climbs ever-increasing ladders with signs saying “loud,” “louder,” “loudest” and “louderest.” Not worth it.
— Miller hits a deep 2 to put the Kings up seven with under a minute.
— A Posey save leads to a Peja airball, which just about seals it.
— C.P. doesn’t think so, and fouls/hustles to the end.
— Kings win, 105-96.
— Donte Greene had 15, Beno had 14 and seven dimes and Miller had 14 and eight for the Kings. For the Hornets, West had 22 (and only one board!), Tyson had 12 and 10, ‘Sual put up a solid 10, Dev Brown got 13 off the bench and C.P. finished with 20, 15 dimes and four steals.
— Talked to ‘Reef briefly. He says what up, Lang.
— Salmons was pretty happy about the game, which was understandable, given his performance (29 points on 13-18, six dimes) on the evening.
“It was good for our confidence, I just hope we can build on it,” he told me. “[My focus was] just being aggressive with Kevin out. I had a good night shooting the ball, getting other guys involved.”
“It’s always tough guarding Chris Paul,” he continued about his primary defensive assignment, our current co-cover man. “He’s one of the best point guards in the league, if not the best.”
About the Kings’ young trio of Hawes, Thompson and Greene, he remarked, “They’ve been great. From the start of training camp to now, they’re getting better.”
— Bobby Brown had no hard feelings about the Hornets not picking him up over the summer, which probably was aided by beating them.
“It was fun. I still talk to those guys,” said the rookie, who played in Germany last season after coming out of Cal State-Fullerton in ’07. “It’s not really about proving them wrong. It wasn’t like they didn’t wanna sign me, the Kings just came with a deal quicker.”
— Talked to Thompson (10 and 6) for a little bit, too. He’s quietly one of the best rookies in the early part of the season.
“I try to do a little bit of everything. It might not be scoring or rebounding, it might not be on the stat sheet but i try to get my hands on a lot of balls,” said the rookie from South Jersey. “I gotta be more aggressive, maybe attack the basket more.”
— Nice to see the local media flock to Bobby Jackson afterwards, as he played big in the clutch in his return to N.O.