I like what I see (for the most part)
With the slow start behind us, we’ve yet again gone 4-1 in our last 5 games which gives us a record of 13-7 (4th West, 2nd Southwest).
Hornets’ last 5 games:
vs. Phoenix, W 104-91
vs. Memphis, W 106-87
vs. Charlotte, W 105-89
at Boston, L 82-94
at Toronto, W 99-91
Maybe it’s just me but it feels like this stretch (5 games in 15 days) lasted forever! Anyway, lots of rest between the majority of the games. This wasn’t exactly of tough stretch of games but as we always say, a win is a win. We beat a short-handed Suns team, booted a fully healthy Grizzlies team right off the floor, beat a short-handed Bobcats team, lost to the best team in the NBA (sans Tyson Chandler), and won at Toronto as the team continues to improve.
What I loved/What I loathed
What I loved:
- David West is looking pretty good lately. Over the stretch, he averaged 22.0 ppg and 9.8 rpg while shooting 57% from the field. D. West is doing some serious work.
- I don’t know what Rasual Butler has been eating/drinking for breakfast on game day, but we need to buy some and give it to everyone on the Hornets’ bench. Rasual’s having a career year. He’s shooting extremely well and playing great defense. I’ve never seen him playing with so much confidence before.
- What I really loved was what I saw in the game at Boston. I know we lost the game by 12 and Tyson Chandler didn’t play but I was still able to see at least a little bit of good in the outcome. What I loved was the toughness we showed out there. On the road at the defending champs without your best rebounder and best interior defender; call me crazy but a year ago or maybe even at the beginning of the season, I’m almost certain we would’ve been blown out. CP had a poor shooting night but he was finding guys all over the place; David shot a poor percentage from the field but still managed to play solid enough defense in the post, block 3 shots, and snag 14 rebounds. Hilton is another guy who I thought came in and played pretty well under the circumstances and even with all the things that went wrong (poor rebounding, Pierce’s outburst in the 3rd, the poor shooting), I still feel like we could’ve won. The performance we had at Boston with our backs against the wall is what we need more of. You add Antonio Daniels coming in off the bench and Tyson Chandler back into the mix and we can certainly get on a nice roll.
What I loathed:
- Peja’s game against the Celtics. Only notable stats were that he went 1-6 from the floor and somehow managed to get credit for 3 steals. He’s been the “forgotten man” on offense lately. He followed the C’s game up with a 4-13, 10 pts. effort at Toronto. Seriously, I hope he’s not slumping again.
- Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like we don’t run that much anymore. More running, please.
- Our offense. The stagnant nature of our offense was never more evident in my opinion than in the game at Boston. Boston clearly has the best half court defense in the league and all we did was make their job extremely easy by having Paul dominate the ball for the majority of the clock or just isolating West with he and CP on that side of the floor and everyone else watching from the other side. I do feel like we have about 5% more movement on offense than we had when the season started which gives us exactly 5% of movement on offense. That bothers the hell out of me. As well as we’ve been playing lately, I still don’t feel like we’ll go anywhere if we don’t fix this problem.
Now, on with the show.
(As Niall pointed out in previous blogs, the Hornets apparently break up the season into 5 game blocks so the games I have listed are what they’re focusing on right now, nothing beyond)
Hornets’ next 5 games:
- at Memphis- The Grizzlies (9-15) are currently riding a 4-game win streak so I’ll assume that they’ll be more competitive than they were when we put a beat down on them in New Orleans a week or so ago. With that being said, they’ll score some points but they won’t be able to stop us. Hornets should win.
- vs. San Antonio- This will be a good game. First time we meet up with the Spurs (15-8) since they ended our title hopes in May. It’s the usual suspects (Parker, Duncan, Ginobili) and a bunch of other guys. I really feel like as long as we’re able to limit the production of the Spurs’ “Big 3”, we should be able to pull this one out.
- vs. Sacramento- Last time Sacramento (6-18) came to visit, they beat us 105-96. Much like the game at Charlotte earlier this season, I’m still wondering how we managed to lose to them. John Salmons is going to come in and probably score at least 20 points , but as long as we stay focused we should win this one easily.
- vs. Los Angeles Lakers- Big game. We need this one. I really don’t feel like we can lose both home games against LAL (20-3). We get two more shots at them after this but both are at LAL. This game can go either way. In the last 2 meetings (one last season, the other was this season) Lakers have come right out the gate and had a lead of at least 25 points on us. Then in the 3rd quarter, we start to get it going and get within at least 5 before going on to lose the game. If it happens this time, we’ll lose again.
- at Orlando- Orlando (18-6) has been an interesting team this year. Dwight Howard is the best center in the league right now and Jameer Nelson has played well when he’s been healthy. If we defend and rebound well, we win this game. If not, I think we still have a good shot to win this game because I’m just not sold on Orlando.