31 March 2006
Tinkering with the formula
With pain and sorrow accumulating among the starters, the Hornets continue to experiment: they signed power forward Marcus Fizer from the Austin Toros of the D-League to a ten-day contract and jettisoned the ailing Jackson Vroman to make room on the roster. (For Vroman, being waived means that there is a 48-hour window of opportunity for another team to acquire his existing contract; if he is not picked up at that time, he may be signed to a new contract. Either way, he is not eligible for this season's playoffs which may not matter, since he won't be healed by then anyway.) And yet another new wrinkle: the ESPN presence in the Ford Center.
Depleted or not, the Hornets jumped out to an early lead, but Memphis stayed close, and there were plenty of ties (eight of them) along the way. But tonight, the Bees would prevail: they shot an amazing 59 percent, and ruled the boards, 33-22. Final: Hornets 107, Grizz 102, taking the season series 3-1.
Of the wounded, only Speedy Claxton returned to action, but the new starters seem to be settling into something of a groove. Linton Johnson, scoreless in his previous start, pulled down 16 points and 8 boards; Marc Jackson, holding down the middle, scored 24, a season high, and got 7 boards. Add 9 from Aaron Williams, 15 from Rasual Butler, and 21 from Chris Paul, and suddenly you've got offense. Weirdly, the Memphis bench outscored its starters, 53-49.
What matters here is first, of course, the W, but also the first real national audience for this year's Hornets and for the Ford Center. Cue John Lennon: "I'd like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition."
Two road games follow: the first meeting with the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, followed by the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.Posted at 10:02 PM to Net Proceeds