After Wednesday night’s huge win against Portland, I can’t think of anything else to call this game besides a huge letdown. It didn’t seem like anyone really came to play tonight besides Marco Belinelli and Carl Landry, and even they had their obvious flaws. Memphis took the Hornets out back and whipped them good, there’s no getting around it. When your team can’t make a jump shot and can’t get a rebound, it’s a dangerous combination and a good way to get blown out; while the score doesn’t show a “blowout”, it sure as hell felt like one in the Hive. To make matters worse, Portland beat Oklahoma City last night, giving them a one game edge for 6th place in the Western Conference. Not all bad news for the Hornets though, as they still own the advantage in quite a few tie-breaker scenarios, and they are also could clinch a playoff spot with wins in their next two games against Indiana and Houston (both at home). Don’t get me wrong, this was a really bad loss, but New Orleans is entirely capable of getting past it. Game notes after the jump.
- I’m getting close to putting the “missing” flyers back out around New Orleans until we find Chris Paul. He continues to play so passively, even with D-West out, and I cannot understand why. The Hornets need a leader by example right now in the worst way, and CP3 is not stepping up and becoming that guy. No play was better evidence of this fact than late in the 3rd quarter; Paul was stripped from behind near the Hornets’ goal by Mike Conley, committing a turnover, and immediately fouled Conley, which was nothing more than a pointless frustration foul which led to two free throws for Memphis. The Chris Paul I know would have never let that happen. He needs to get back on track, and soon, or else New Orleans could see their season end without winning one playoff game.
- Kudos to Belinelli and Landry, the only two Hornets who could buy a bucket in this one. Landry was incredibly efficient, making 8 of 13 shots for 19 points, and Beli wasn’t far behind with his 5-9 shooting night for 14 points. When you consider the fact that Tony Allen, one of the NBA’s premier defenders, was guarding Marco for most of his time in the game, it becomes even more impressive. That being said, each player had their flaws. Belinelli seems to get slower and slower each game, primarily on defense and in scrambles for loose balls. As for Landry – while I watched him go to work in the first half as the rest of the team did nothing, I thought to myself “well, at least we can’t blame this one on not having D-West, because Landry is accounting for most of West’s production.” Then, the 2nd half happened. Landry scored just 3 points after halftime; though his minutes were limited because of foul trouble, his disappearing act in the 2nd half made me realize how much we still miss David. You know, that and the 2 rebounds Landry grabbed all game. Two. In 32 minutes. One offensive and one defensive. Absolutely unacceptable from a starting PF, no matter how many points you score. Can someone teach him how to get a board?
- There really is not that much else to talk about in a positive light. No one else played well. Q-Pon looked decent in 13 minutes of action (3-5 shooting including one nice follow and put-back), but that’s about it. I’m not sure why Monty Williams was so quick to pull Landry after picking up his 4th foul late in the 3rd quarter and his 5th foul halfway through the 4th; what was he saving him for? No one else on the team could create any sort of offense, and you’re going to pull Landry down by 10 with six minutes to go? Was he waiting for a 20 point deficit with 2 minutes remaining? I couldn’t figure that one out, so if anyone can explain it to me, I’d appreciate it.
- To harp on my earlier point, the Hornets made just 12 of 35 shots from 10 feet or further, and got out-rebounded 40-26. The two numbers inherently somewhat correlated, but regardless, these were two independent struggles for New Orleans all game. It seemed like the Bees just didn’t feel like boxing out, instead deciding to get into a jumping contest with Memphis for loose balls, and obviously lost. Credit Memphis for playing great defense all game, but make no mistake, this was an all-around lackluster effort from the Hornets. Got to shake it off and get ready for the game Sunday against a Pacers team riding a 3-game win streak and clinging for dear life to the 8th seed in the East (with a 35-42 record, which never ceases to make me sick). Geaux Hornets!