14 April 2006
And that was that
Sean Kelley was calling for Rolaids in the second half, and I can't blame him: this game churned from start to finish. With 27 seconds left, the Hornets led the Jazz, 104-103; Deron Williams drew a foul and sank two free throws at the 18-second mark, putting Utah in front, and that was the season. (Oh, yeah, there are those three West Coast games, but we won't talk about those right now.)
All five Jazz starters scored in double figures, but the greatest damage came from the front court, where Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer combined for 48 points and 17 rebounds; Kirilenko blocked seven shots.
David West, though, was stellar: he had 31 points and 12 boards, and four other Bees picked up double figures.
So now the Hornets, at 38-41, are two games out of ninth three games out of the eighth playoff slot with three games to play. They are not mathematically eliminated, technically, but don't hold your breath waiting for them to win all three while the Jazz and the Kings go 0-3 next week.
Still, did anyone imagine this team would win even 38 games? Recall the words of one particularly-uninformed commentator:
I'm inclined to think that finishing 31-51 would qualify as a moral victory. (I'm expecting more like 25-57.)
At New Year's, I guesstimated 34-48. At the time, they were 12-17.
I close with the words of Ron Hitley of Hornets247.com, before the season began:
Early indications are that OKC can sustain a major league franchise, but will the support for the Hornets last?
The novelty might start to wear off when the Hornets stumble into the new year with single digits in the win column. If the people of Oklahoma City want to keep the team for at least another season, or prove themselves prime candidates for an expansion team, that can't happen.
And, well, it didn't. The last game of the season at the Ford, like the first, was a sellout.
Addendum, Saturday night: Sacramento 100, Denver 82. The door is officially closed.