Game Notes: Hawks at Hornets
What’s with kids these days?
by Toney Blare
– In the press room, we watch the bizarre ending to the Ole Miss-LSU game as Les Miles blows it. An onside kick should be part 1 of a last-minute comeback attempt plan. The Tigers seem surprised to get the ball back, to move the ball, and finally, to get into the red zone, and no one knows when to call a timeout or NOT spike the ball. Awful.
– At my table sit four kids, probably 12 years old, with a chaperon. They play with their cell phones and talk about a party the night before, and seem a little blasé at the surroundings. When I was 12, a buddy of mine and I stormed the field at Pitt Stadium after WVU upset the home team. We got lost, ended up on our own and snuck into the winning locker room. It blew our minds and we wandered around for hours trying to find his dad, cause no one had a phone, caught some serious ish for that. Point being: kids these days!
– The placement of AI and T-Mac on the All-Star ballot is the definitive sign that the whole process is garbage. I end up not filling one out, but if I did, I’d have…
East: Joe Johnson-DWade-Bosh-Bron-Dwight
I know we’re all a little sick of the 2010 free agent hype, but six of 10 all-star starters are up for grabs. They all sign with the Nyets, you read it here first.
But if I was picking for a sheerly interesting game, I’d have…
West: Westbrook-JRich-Odom-Durant-Marc Gasol
East: Jennings-Crawford-Paul Pierce-Gerald Wallace-Sheed
You’d watch four quarters of that, right?
– Last week, the Hornets debuted a new Mardi Gras jersey, with the purple-gold-green color scheme that covers the city every year. Walking around the arena, you can see this is a big hit. I usually end up wearing the same shirt for like four days during Carnival, and then on Mardi Gras day I switch to either a Napoleon or Charlie Chaplin costume. This year, I’m buying a customized Bonzi Wells Mardi Gras jersey and going for broke, Chinese, and slap happy.
– Before tip-off, the PA blasts “Half Time (Stand Up and Get Crunk)” by the Ying Yang twins, which somehow is the Saints theme song this year in the Dome next door. This must confuse the sh*t out of the team from the ATL, though.
– Bibby lands on Darren Collison’s foot and sprains an ankle, appears to blames Danny Crawford for this.
– Peja drops four threes in a row to take a 15-12 lead. If Chris stays out another couple weeks, Peja may make the All-Star game. They have him coming off of screens and actually getting shots, rather than the accidental offense generated in the BScott era for the pricey marksman.
– Collison looks comfortable. Turns the ball over like a rookie, but brings it, actually an interesting match-up with Jamal Crawford, who’s replaced Bibby. Has a great assist that ends the quarter 22-19, Bees.
– Hey, look at that: James Posey is still alive. Yeah, drops a three and everything. Look, you know I’ve railed against Byron for two years in this very space, and probably will again before the night is out. But Jeff Bower signed Posey to a four-year deal, thinking the vet was the final piece. This was a huge mistake, the opposite direction to head. I guess I like the whole “McHale” accountability move.
– Tim Floyd reminds me of L. Paul Bremer, the first American viceroy (or whatever) of Iraq, who disbanded the Iraqi military and snuck away after signing over sovereignty behind closed doors and escaping in a helicopter, opening the way for the darkest days of the war. Is this relevant? Dunno, but I thought it was very, very weird to bring him back from the wilderness of sanctions and casinos. He’s on his feet as often as Bower tonight, and along with the animated and debonair CP3, creates quite the hectic scene on the Hornets bench.
– Marcus Thornton will kill you. Strong upper body to get in the lane and able to drop threes, he does both and puts N.O. up 41/28 with 2:00 left in the half. Here’s why I think Bower might be the right guy for this job: he went and drafted 2 guards in the CP3 mode: big balls, good handles, unafraid, with natural chips on their shoulders, and he’s playing them. Byron (I think) got fired because he didn’t after promising he would. Keep an eye on this before you pronounce this franchise dead: until now, you didn’t really see a team built in the image of Chris, just a collection of decent surrounding parts and a b.s. veteran/rookie hierarchy. Make this team run, buck, and scowl, and they have a chance.
– Tyrone Hill is on the Atlanta bench, looking as pretty as ever. I bet he and Bibby straight up slay the ladies in Buckhead.
– Collison gets a lucky bounce to end the half 49-42, Hornets.
– Grab a coffee and a cookie and a pound from ‘Nique. I had a full door poster of him when I was 12. Life is alright.
– Emeka Okafor was 1-2 in the first half, and they still don’t seem to know how to get the ball to him. On defense, though, he’s faster and more responsive than Tyson. Earlier in the season, and somewhat today, the defense suffered because David West is unused to (or uninterested in) filling in the paint when the center chases someone.
– With Bibby out, the Hawks look unfocused. Too many shots by Crawford and JSmoove, Joe looks off. But you can tell that with this depth and their regular PG, they’ll be tough in the playoffs, control the boards and block an insane amount of shots, with scorers who demand attention. Gotta be happy for Lang.
– For some reason, Devin Brown doesn’t fasten the velco straps on his sneaks, just has them hanging loose. Dev, what can the kids think? On second thought, kids: Do NOT look at Devin Brown.
– Something to consider: The TV shows that the Hornets have played the second most difficult schedule so far, vs. opponents with a collective .577 winning pct (DC is first with vs. .595). This includes two games against the Clippers, too.
– DWest blocks a shot, Paris Armstrong gets the loose ball, outlet pass to Collison, who hits Thornton for the dunk, 71-60 N.O. to end the 3rd. The rookies scream for joy.
– Jeff Teague gets some burn, looks small.
– Bobby Brown catches an oop. Every time he scores, of course, they play “Prerogative.” I’ve been thinking about “Prerogative” lately. First, were people really whispering and rumor-mongering about that Bobby Brown when he wrote it? In the press and sh*t? I guess with the break-up of New Edition, but, really, wasn’t that song a sure sign of paranoia and crazy? And if you were Bobby Brown the NBA player, wouldn’t it suck to hear some crackhead’s anthem every time you did something good?
– Honeybees come out in purple sweats, one pantleg rolled up. I dig this for some reason. The PA plays the intro but not the full track of Back Dat Azz Up. F’real, shouldn’t they just turn these things over to Bounce and 90s N.O. rap? As someone who DJ’s regularly to a mixed crowd, I think you’d be surprised how widespread the knowledge and love of Cash Money lyrics are in this town.
– Also, free Lil Boosie! The Baton Rouge rapper is going to jail for violation of a very friendly house arrest arrangement. He’s the dude who did “Zoom” and “Wipe Me Down,” and I woulda thought he was waaaaaay too smart for that. Completely.
– Dance Cam reveals that the Mardi Gras jersey has inspired quite a bit of drinking tonight.
– Again, Jamal Crawford jacking up shots. I was glad he found the perfect team for him, and he works as the back-up ballhandler, but there’s no way they’d be this good if Jamal was their full-time PG. Also, he’s a 9 year vet. I find that hard to believe on multiple levels.
– Joe heats up and the Hawks tighten things up to 88-81 with 2:00 to go. Then Okafor hits a shot from the FT line, Jamal drops a three, and Thornton’s putback results in goaltending. 92-84.
– As Okafor heads to the bench, Chris says something that brings a big grin, and you can finally see the big man relaxing. He seems like he’s still getting to know everyone, earn some trust, so it’s good that the Hornets have the captain they do. In fact, Chris is messing with so many people and getting shoved for it, I start to worry he’s going to hurt his ankle again. Point being, as long as that guy is here, this franchise has a shot. The national media cried “Frustration!” after the Scott firing. Look, they should’ve told CP3, sure. That was a F up, and to tell you the truth, this franchise has made some strange moves throughout it’s existence. But if you’ve ever watched Chris Paul play, he looks pissed the whole time. That’s him, and it’s one of the most underrated things about him, a trait that makes the city love the man. If he gets a few more guys on this team who play with that kind of chip, things will turn around. I thought firing BScott before Okafor got worked in was a little hasty, but firing him WAS the right move. And you know who looks like a head coach and CP buddy? New assistant Robert Pack. Just saying.
– Game ends 96-86. Collison finishes with 22 and 11, Thornton with 21, and the new coach is 3-2. In his press conference, Bower says they need everybody to win, that he doesn’t expect the rookies to make mistakes. It’s a telling change from the BScott era, when the coach treated young players as if he himself were a veteran, hazing them, making them worry over his approval. This team will need every part working to make the playoffs. Signs were surprisingly positive tonight.
– I scour the loading dock for Tyrone Hill, who I used to see in the TGI Friday’s on City Line Ave in Philly. No luck. I do watch Bibby autograph a kid’s CP3 jersey. Seriously, what’s up with kids today?