Basketball Gods Do Exist
Basketball Gods Do Exist. How else can you explain the ending of regulation in the Hornets win on Thursday in Utah? Let me start at the 22.5 second mark of the 4th quarter. That's when Hornet captain David West injured his knee.
On the play, West was clearly fouled on his game-tying dunk, but no call was made. New Orleans then played 4 on 5 at the other end of the floor, and forced the ball out of bounds. The Hornets last two 20 second timeouts (already out of full TOs) were then used by Monty Williams, until West could be wheeled off the floor. I was not upset (at the time) with the lack of a call on West’s dunk, because the refs had let both teams be physical the entire second half.However, I was very ticked off when the officials called a foul on Okafor with 1.8 seconds left. With all the phsycial play in the second half, and after letting West get checked on his way to a game saving dunk, they blew the whistle when Okafor didn’t even touch Paul Millsap on his shot.
The basketball gods must have been watching, because what happen next was nothing short of miraculous. Millsap made the first free throw, to put the Jazz up one. With 1.8 seconds left, and no Hornet timeouts remaining, he should have intentionally missed the second. Instead, he sinks it, and Aaron Gray throws an inbounds pass the length of the court. Chris Paul jumps above three bigger Jazz defenders to tip the ball to Okafor, who throws the ball across his body 20 feet away from the goal. The ball releases from his fingertips with 0.2 seconds left, and rainbows off the glass for two points to force overtime. It was sweet justice for the Hornets, who had just lost one of their captains, and appeared to be on the verge of losing a crucial game.
Aaron Gray played outstanding. After not playing in the first half, Williams inserted his biggest player into the lineup, and he delivered in a big way. 10 points and 8 boards in 20 minutes do not even begin to tell the story. Gray sank 4 free throws late in OT, when the Jazz intentionally fouled him. Though Gray was 50% from the charity stripe on the year, he didn’t show it, as he calmly sank one critical free throw after another. I wasn’t the only one impressed with Gray’s performance.
“Shout out, props, whatever you want to call it to Aaron Gray. He didn’t play the whole first half, comes in in the second half, dominates on the boards (eight), then knocks down free throws when no one expected him to knock down free throws,” said an admiring Williams after the game. “He was the difference tonight.”
He, along with a little justice from the basketball gods. Now the Hornets need to pray the b-ball gods heal West’s knee fast. I hate to even think that West may have played his last game in a Hornet uniform, but it’s something all Hornet fans need to consider.