Despite the quality of the opponent, this game was another one of those “tough to stomach” losses that is usually reserved for losing to teams such as Minnesota and Sacramento. The reason for this feeling is because the Hornets played one of the most complete halves of basketball in the first 24 minutes that I have seen from them this season, and as a result they led a great Boston team 51-40 at halftime. I thought about blaming the Celtics’ first half struggles on the fact that they were on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, but take a look at the box score from their Friday night game against Houston – the Celts were down by 23 after 3 quarters, and the players’ minutes correlate with my assumption that none of the starters played in the 4th quarter. Therefore, if you’re a Boston fan, I don’t really think you can use the game in Houston the night before as an excuse; the Celtics just got vastly outplayed in the first half. Unfortunately, thanks to an abysmal Hornets 3rd quarter (among other things that I will discuss later), the Bees weren’t able to win their 3rd straight home game against Boston. This is where I’d typically give Andrew a shout-out for his stunningly accurate final score prediction of a 90-86 Celtics victory, but since it leads me to believe that he’s the one who paid off the referees in the second half, I’m not going to recognize him. More thoughts on the game after the jump.
- Well, so much for being excited about that CP3/Rondo matchup. Paul’s shot was obviously off (0-9 overall, 0-4 from deep), but credit that just as much to the excellent defense of both Rondo and Delonte West. I think Boston’s version of D-West is one of the most underrated players in the league defensively, and he proved it while Rondo was out by making CP3 really work hard to get into the paint, often keeping him out of the lane altogether. Paul’s 15 assists and 7 rebounds obviously should not be overlooked, but it is going to be really difficult to win a game when your team’s top player doesn’t make a shot and finishes with only 4 made free throws.
- Belinelli had one hell of a first quarter for New Orleans, matching Boston’s point total in that frame with 14 points on 5-6 shooting, all but one of the shots coming from beyond the arc. He finished with a season high 23 points on 8-13 shooting, making 5 of his 8 three point attempts as well. Beli is the team’s streakiest shooter, so here’s to hoping he carries this hot shooting into the playoffs. Conversely, Willie Green had one of the worst 11 minutes of playing time that I have ever seen, as he went 0-4 including 2 airballs and contributed absolutely nothing else offensively.
- It looks like either A) I was wrong about Trevor Ariza or B) the 3-day break between Wednesday’s Suns game and last night was enough of a layoff to get him back to normal from a health perspective. He did a fantastic job on Paul Pierce all game, limiting the Celtics’ star to 9 points on 1-9 shooting by coercing him into shooting long jump shots; 6 of the 9 attempts were 3-pointers, and only one attempt came in the paint. Ariza was his usual poor shooting self, but not completely awful (4-10 overall, 2-5 from beyond the arc), and he filled up the stat sheet in other areas (8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, only 1 turnover). Solid game from Trevor; when he limits a guy like Pierce to the night he had, I’m okay with him shooting 4-10.
- D-West typically struggles against KG, but he had a monster game this time, finishing with 32 points on 14-23 shooting, also grabbing 8 rebounds and adding 2 steals and 2 blocks. With Landry limited to only 10 minutes because he re-opened a bad cut, West stepped up by playing all but 4 minutes of the game. As usual, however, he and the rest of the Hornets big men struggled to guard both KG and Big Baby thanks to their ability to stretch the floor with their mid-range jumpers. The two Celtics PFs combined to make 14 of their 24 shots, good for a total of 32 points.
- I liked Monty Williams’ decision to give his starters extended minutes in this game. With 3 days off before the game and 4 days off after, he knew his team should have plenty of energy to spend on the game, and they responded by playing extremely hard.
- Now, it’s time for me to vent. I am not bringing this up until now because the way that the Hornets played in the 3rd quarter was inexcusable; if they had even played average basketball during that quarter, they probably would have won the game. That being said, the moment Davis and KG picked up their 4th fouls with about 4 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, the game changed. It almost seemed as if the referees were catering to the needs of the Celtics to allow them to keep their ideal lineup in the game. There was a point with 10 minutes to go in the 4th quarter when the referees called a foul, and Glen Davis was literally crouched in the middle of the lane upset with himself because he knew he had just committed his 5th foul; unfortunately, the refs decided to give the foul to Jeff Green. This is just an example of the kinds of calls that were being made throughout most of the 4th quarter. The calls that were made were an embarrassment to the league, and the NBA really should review the game film from the entire second half. That’s all I am going to say on the subject, but if you watched the game, you know where I’m coming from.
NEXT GAME: After a nice 4-day break, the Hornets hit the road to take on the Utah Jazz on Thursday night at 8 PM central time. The Jazz are 5-7 since trading Deron Williams, and are 0-5 against teams over .500 during that span. In addition, Utah has 3 road games between now and their game against the Hornets, playing tonight in Houston, tomorrow night in Memphis, and Wednesday night in Oklahoma city. A well-rested New Orleans squad should be in great shape for their game Thursday against a likely fatigued Jazz team, which should hopefully lead to a Hornets victory. Until then, it’s back to watching the standings and the scores every night to see where our team lies. Go Hornets!