If a tree falls and no one's around to hear it, did it happen at a Hornets home game? I understand that the NBA had an obligation to return to New Orleans after what happened, but they weren't drawing crowds before Katrina and they aren't drawing crowds now. You have to believe that the Hornets owner, who is already about the bottom line anyway, still wishes he was selling out games in Oklahoma City.
1. Chris Paul - Let's get the sheer numbers out of the way before I gush all over this guy (not literally). 33 points. 11 of 25 from the field. 10 of 10 from the line. 9 rebounds. 12 assists. 3 steals. Only 2 turnovers. Now that that's taken care of, I will say that this kid is one of my favorite, possibly THE favorite, non-Mav in the league right now. I love to watch him play. The Hornets are a good team, and his development is 75% of it. I'm not sure how far they will go in a 7-game playoff series because they don't have much of a bench, but they will give some teams fits if they aren't careful. Just real quick before I move on: I love Chris Paul.
2. Tyson Chandler - Let's get the sheer numbers out of the way before I give my dissertation on this guy. 21 points. 7 of 14 from the field. 7 of 10 from the line. 13 rebounds. 2 assists. 3 blocks. Now that that's taken care of, I will say that this kid's one of the better examples as to why a promising big man should not jump from high school to the pros. Kwame Brown is an example of how it can go horribly wrong for the young man. Chandler is an example of how it can go horribly wrong for the team that takes the initial gamble on the young man. There is a much shorter learning curve for the athletic swingmen, but 18-year-olds that are over 7 feet tall usually have relied on their ability to outreach everyone. They have no muscle on their gigantic bodies, and it takes them longer to develop. So the team that takes the original gamble on this type of player usually doesn't have him on the roster by the time he finally comes around. Chandler was drafted by the Bulls and was labeled a bust after 3 years. They were disappointed with him and unloaded him. Guess what? Now he's a 24-year-old athletic big man that has 5 years experience under his belt and has finally added enough muscle to his frame to make him a true low post player . . . and Chicago isn't getting to take advantage of one lick of that development. New Orleans is.
3. Peja Stojakovic/David West/Jannero Pargo - This is kind of a cop-out, but there weren't any deserving Mavs and plenty of deserving Hornets. They combined for 44 points, 19 rebounds, and 5 of 8 from behind the arc. Peja sent the game into overtime. Pargo killed the Mavs in the extra frame. And West destroyed us on the boards.
- Dirk's Digits: Not quite as horrible as the previous game, but bad nonetheless. 19 points on 5 of 15 shooting (9 of his 19 coming from the free throw line), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, no steals, no blocks.
- Brandon Bass is a New Orleans native that is finally getting to play in his hometown in front of his family and friends. He did play for the Hornets for 2 years before coming here, but they played most of their games in OKC, and on the rare occasions that they did come back to New Orleans, Bass never got off the bench. He had a decent game with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks, and I'm sure it felt wonderful to finally be back home living the dream. I'm happy for him.
- Tyson Chandler, on the other hand, is from Compton, Calif. I can't help it, but when I think of Compton, I think of N.W.A, Ice Cube, Ice-T, etc. The city that gave birth to hardcore gangsta rap. Compton could transform into the pinnacle of suburban extravagance and royalty, but I will probably always associate it with the ghetto lifestyle that influenced the music that was born there. That's not a racist thing, though. I mean, if Dirk Nowitzki was from Tombstone, Ariz., I would naturally assume that Wyatt Earp shot his uncle at the O.K. Corral. Some cities are just famous for things.
- Mavs announcer, Mark Followill, declares that Mavs guard J.J. Barea is "listed at 6 feet." That's industry talk for "shorter than the hair on an infant."
- We find out during this game that Avery Johnson is more into gospel music and old R&B, like the Temptations. I can dig that. The first date I ever took my wife on was to a Temptations concert, and it worked for me. Thanks, Temptations!
- Josh Howard and Chris Paul are from the same hometown, and they both went to Wake Forest. They never played together, though, and that's a shame. I bet that would have been a great high school and college team with the two of them together.
- This win for the Hornets was very significant because the Hornets franchise hadn't beaten the Mavs in 21 straight meetings, dating back to their days in Charlotte. Their head coach, Byron Scott, has never beaten the Mavs, either, including his days with the New Jersey Nets. I guess you have feed the panda every now and then, right?
- Finally, I will discuss the Hornets crowd, or what there was of one. Who dresses these people? One girl is wearing a dress the size of a gym sock. Another one's shirt is so shiny you could use it to get some more sun on your face. The rest were just wearing ugly clothes. Some outdated, some just ugly. This has nothing to do with Katrina. This has to do with horrible fashion sense. Do what I do. If you have no idea how to put an outfit together, go with the tried and true: blue jeans and a knit shirt. You'll never look great, but you'll never look awful.
This was a tough loss, because there were times when the Mavs looked like they had it under control. But at least they didn't drop a game to a bad team. The Hornets look really good this year and could wind up as high as a 5 seed in the playoffs. As long as the Mavs are 4 or higher, I'm okay with that. Go Mavs!