Thursday, November 1, 2007

Opening Night at the Hive

New Orleans 104 | Sacramento 90

CP3 stepped out to center court under a lonely spotlight. The teams had been introduced, and the energy in the arena was building, but all eyes and ears stayed focused in anticipation. "Thank you for showing up to support us. You've done your part New Orleans, now it's time for us to do ours."

And they did. Ok, so it wasn't quite a rout, but who cares. Of course, there's good news and bad news. The Hornets won by a comfortable margin that would have been much larger had they needed their starters for more than 10% of the fourth quarter. The bad news: they beat a Bibby-less, Artest-less Kings who only stayed within reach because Kevin Martin had a great (expected) showing and John Salmons had a 22 point game (I blame the insane beard he was sporting... speaking of which, has anyone seen Brian Skinner lately?).

Of course, splitting the evening into such binary oppositions takes away from the fact that this game represented more than just a season-opening win. Halloween at the hive was the Hornet's formal (and hopefully permanent) return to the Crescent City. They played excellent all night with every starter putting up excellent numbers in front of a nearly sell-out crowd (I should qualify that Halloween is an enormous drinking holiday in this town, so that fact that they drew anyone is impressive). CP3 and Tyson put up double-doubles with West just barely missing. Peja threw up 19 points including 4 three-pointers. Even Melvin Ely was contributing. And honestly, the Kings never really showed up. Despite being the first to score, they trailed for most of the first by only possession, but then totally fell off the map. I should note that Kevin Martin was truly a pleasure to watch. He's so smooth and has a beautiful shot. I think the Kings have laid a fairly huge contract in front of him, but I think he'd do well to leave Sacramento as soon as possible. Just wait until he plays for a team that matters: he's going to run the board, guaranteed. But as of now, he plays for Sacramento.

Good game? Absolutely. Cap off the team's excellent performance with appearances by Kermit Ruffins and Irma Thomas, how can you lose? You can't. There are moments when a basketball team clicks: when the point guard anticipates every move of his teammates, when the big men are relentless rebounders until the ball goes in, when sharpshooters can't miss. When those moments all coalesce at the same moment, it's a beautiful sight. It's even more beautiful to realize that they'll be clicking all season back home where they belong.

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