Saturday, November 10, 2007

Close, but no cigar (no love, either)

San Antonio 97 | New Orleans 85

One thing I vowed to never do when I started this blog was to blame a loss on poor officiating, and I can tell you that the Hornets home loss to the Spurs last night really had me rethinking such a seemingly short-sighted notion. Truthfully, I can't blame the loss on the officials. We shot anemic percentages from behind the arc and from the line (27% and 64% respectively), Peja had better odds of hitting the fans than the rim, and Tony Parker/Tim Duncan duo shot 65% from the field and finished with a combined 51 points. Despite those numbers the game was back and forth for most of the first half, with the Hornets trailing between 5 and 25 points in the second half (at any given point). My biggest problem wasn't so much the way the Hornets played (although "off" would be a decent descriptor), but rather that Byron Scott benched our starters for most of the fourth quarter. It made zero sense. Granted, we had an awful third quarter, but when we brought the score to within 10, all of our star power went missing. And for what reason? My buddy, Curry, and I knew the game was over when the score gap starting getting wider in the final two or three minutes and Byron Scott saw fit to put in Uncle Bowen. Victory seemed so close yet so far away.

I would like to at least offer a brief description of the terrible officiating that I do believe contributed to the Hornet's loss. Interestingly enough, the Spurs had 2 more personal fouls as a team than the Hornets; however, theirs went mostly to marginal players and poor shooters. Who cares if Fabricio Oberto has 4 fouls and has to be benched? What killed me was that Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were invincible with the ball in hand. Seriously. I mean, I almost advocated punching Manu on fastbreaks because he was going to get the call anyway, so why not at least give him a real reason to flop. He had zero (0) personal fouls. 0. It was disgusting. And Duncan? He's even worse. Despite having 3 fouls, he managed to be the cause of so many Hornets fouls by throwing that ol' hip of his around. Never seems to fail. Especially when he's being guarded by a hotheaded Tyson Chandler who's trying to keep his cool.

I still can't get on the Duncan bandwagon. Everyone says he's the nicest guy, but I don't buy it. It could be my general disdain for all things Spurs, it could be that I am a converted Suns fan, it could be that I just can't stand to watch them get every call in their favor. My friend Sam has claimed for years that Duncan is the best player in the league, and you'd be hard pressed to argue against it. But I still can't stand him. You know what, it's probably because even though he makes all of his shots, his turnaround-kiss-off-the-glass-that-looks-remarkably-like-Shaq's-freethrow is annoying. I always see that shot and think, there's no way that's going in. Always wrong.

Anyway, before I depart, it is worth noting that the Hornets did start 4-0 with a big win over Denver and an unbelievable record-setting night against the Lakers. A hard fought game in Portland (without technical fouling Tyson for the second half) ended with the Hornets only three points behind. All in all, we're playing solid. Peja seems a bit streaky, and Byron is making odd coaching decisions, but we're still 4-2. After all, it could be worse. Ask Ken Mauer tomorrow how much worse it could be when I send someone to find him in a dark alley. See you next week.

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