Game Notes: Cavs at Hornets
Bees continue to fly high against former coach.
by Toney Blare
– The festivities outside the arena now include a ’64 Cadillac airbrushed in various Hornets-related symbols and a DJ teaching people how to Dougie. First game of the season for me!
– Greens, mac, fried chicken.
– They got me in the second row, baseline, where I switch over to OKC-Boston. Now, the Celts end up losing that game, but what about this: If they beat Miami this year, taking the East times in four years, having already won a title in their first year as a Big 3, it goes to show once again that Kanye would never write some bullsh*t song where he sings about being a douchebag.
– Tonight I look forward to Byron Scott folding his arms and just taking it all in. When I told the wife I was going to this game, she said, “Now you can really root against him.” He drove me crazy for three years.
– Mo Williams is back in the starting lineup, Antawn Jamison still comes off the bench. One of the worst moments in the NBA last year was that speech they made him give after the Gil gun incident. Now here he is again, cleaning up a mess. Weird career.
– With his injury last year, I forgot just how much coaching CP3 does on the floor. He blasts his teammates way more than Kobe ever did, and to good effect.
– Belinelli is now in the Peja role, but slashes more than expected. I like him.
– Wow. David West power slam, 23-23, with 2:00 to go.
– Quarter ends ugly with consecutive kicked balls, just as I was about to laud the overall tightly contested match. 28-26, Cavs.
– Speaking of Mystikal, my buddy’s brother lives in Baton Rouge. A friend of his got one of those molester-in-your-hood notices in the mail. Wait, do I know this guy? He thought. Looking closer and recognizing the name: Michael Lawrence Tyler. Yep, Mystikal had just moved on to the block. Watch y’self!
– The Bayless-Belinelli-Green guard rotation is a sign of the improved strategic thinking of the franchise. You have three scrappy dudes unafraid to attack, each a version of Chris. Put them together with Ariza and Okafor for a few minutes, and the Bees retake the lead, 49-46. Chris checks in with 4:30 to go, the kind of half-a-quarter rest Byron never gave him. And I know they’re boys, but only one of them’s got the knee brace to prove it.
– Belinelli now hits the statement threes that once were Peja’s. Cavs should call a TO, but this is….BYRON SCOTT CALLS A TIMEOUT! I saw it, my jaw-dropped, and I thanked SLAM for letting me be here to record it.
(NOTE: Writing this Saturday morning, I go to SLAMonline to check the halftime score I didn’t save, and see the trade of Peja and Bayless to Toronto. Don’t like it. Not at all. That was a big contract to get loose of, and the thought here was Marcus Thornton would be the additional guard. Don’t like it.)
– My new name is DJ Mbenga. Seriously, no one has picked it up yet, I bet. DJ Mbenga, happy hours at Handsome Willy’s, Friday nights.
– Varajeao made all that money off of Bron and now is a shell of himself, bouncing off of nothing, missing chip shots, completely unbalanced by the loss of the King. Like the rest of this team, he is a decent part that is attached to no central force. I didn’t think this would make me sad, but watching guys like Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and even Lil’ Boobie drift around with no real point, it is a little sad. Except that I’m from Pittsburgh and can only be sympathetic to Cleveland for like three sentences.
– Hornets start to break it open. Chris hits a three, then scores on the break, 67-51 NO. And if I do believe my ears, BScott just took another timeout.
– In the meantime, a cheerleader massacres my new DJ name while announcing some contest. As she does this, a kid in a McDonald’s jumpsuit and some sort of neon headdress does handstand pushups in front of us. He looks kind of like he works at McDonald’s, even.
– DWest is owning JJ Hickson.
– What Chris has perfected is the bowling ball method of drawing fouls, often around half-court as he brings the ball up angrily and bucks his defender. He’s picked up two on Mo Williams that seem to have really bruised the would-be retiree.
– Belinelli is a good passer, just slick overall and perfect oil for Chris’s vinegar.
– I’m trying to think if Byron’s ever picked up a strategic tech, the way Popovich would. They need one right now.
– Chris sits with 1:30 left in the third, could be it for him. Peja checks in, should be fed as a sales pitch to the L. 81-68, Hornets after three.
– Flagrant 2 on Joey Graham, who smacked DWest upside the head on the break.
– Five minutes later, Ryan Hollins picks up a Flagrant 1, again on DWest, who gets in the kid’s face. Is Byron sending a message?
– With 6:40 to go, Monty Williams puts his starters back in to hold a 12pt lead.
– DWest hits a putback, seems more tenacious this season. Even his D is more, uh, conscientious. We should note, too, the great year Okafor’s had so far. Instead of being plugged in with no real assignment, he’s the central force on defense, staying home to defend the net, and benefiting from CP3’s passing. What looked like a disastrous pick-up is now turning into a very valuable move.
– Boobie and Parker hit threes. 100-92 with 2:30 left. Jamison jumper makes it 100-96 with a minute to go, when DWest pulls a great spin move, silences the headslappers and takes a six-point lead.
– Hornets win, 108-101. DWest has 34, 11 and 3 blocks — a massive line. He and Chris exchange hugs with their old coach, who as always, is nonplussed by wins and losses.
– Monty Williams is very young and answers a few questions in the voice of a man deep in thought, still analyzing what just took place, I.e. a blow-out made a little too close at the end, and the first time his revamped defense has given up 100 points. “We still have a lot to work on.” He’s right, but at 10-1 and 7-0 at home, the young coach has this team very much on the right path.
– As for the Cavs, at first glance, Byron’s a good pickup last offseason. He’s a player’s coach, so if Bron had wanted to come back, good look. And with Bron’s departure, Byron has a rep for resurrecting franchises. The problem: In both of those cases, he had world-class point guards to lead the team. In this version, he has a bunch of satellites, no gravitational force, and no system to install. If a better, hungrier “game coach” was in Cleveland, I could see these guys scraping together 44 wins. With the hands-off cool of BScott, I’d be a little worried.
– Walking back to my office, the sidewalk is empty but for a lone woman. She’s pretty fit to be hobbling out here all alone, I think. Must’ve gotten crunk at the game and separated from her friends. As I get closer, I realize she has one boot off, broken heel or some such, and is trying to fix it while moving. Sorta reminds me of Cleveland.