HORNETS PREVAIL IN A TIGHT GAME!
This game went back and forth, but the Hornets came into Orlando and won 98-97. Both teams played some decent ball, even though Paul and Peja weren't very effective.
What really surprised me was Chris Paul's shooting under pressure. He missed two consecutive free throws that could have given them a three point lead. The Magic assumed they would commit a foul, but it didn't happen. They penetrated in a bit and threw the ball out to Keyon Dolling. He put the ball onto the floor and shot a tough jumper. It then backfired off of the front rim and the Hornets got the rebound and held the ball. I didn't like the shot the Magic got. First, I don't consider Dolling someone who can shoot off the dribble. If they drew up a play similar to what the Lakers did against the Wizards, they could've gotten a higher percentage shot. Here's a mock play: Hedo could penetrate in and Rashard Lewis would be waiting in the corner for a pass. If Hedo get near the basket, he should draw a double and the shot would open up for Lewis.
There were some great ideas behind the Magic's strategy. When they were down three with about nine seconds left, they decided to let Hedo dunk it instead of going for a desperation three. I'm sure most coaches would've done the same, but I thought it was smart. It's common knowledge that a team in this situation will give up a two and give the ball to a solid foul shooter after the other team scores. I also thought the Magic didn't get the best calls from the refs. When the Hornets were inbounding the ball, Maurice Evans and Morris Peterson collided. They decided to call a foul on the Magic, even though the opposing player pushed off. This resulted in a point swing. Instead of having a chance to get a two of three, Peja got a free throw and it then became a possible three or four point possession. He did hit a three and it became four points. I hope the officials review that and learn from this experience.
Photo by: John Raoux