The Blazers beat the Hornets

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Published: February 3, 2009

What a difference no Chris Paul makes.

The Hornets looked like a lottery team tonight after CP left the game late in the third quarter with a groin strain. At the time we led by 17 points, but the Blazers flipped everything with a 38-15 fourth quarter, sending the Hornets to their first three-game losing streak of the season.

Bullets:

  • Make no mistake: by far the biggest reason we lost this game is because Chris Paul got hurt, and we’re just not a very good team without him. That said, I have to question some of the moves Byron Scott made in the fourth quarter. Most baffling to me was the lineup of West, Posey, Peja, Butler and Daniels going against Przybilla, Aldridge, Fernandez/Outlaw, Roy and Bayless. I understand Portland is a great rebounding team, but it’s inexcusable that we allow them a 17-4 edge on the boards in the fourth quarter. I’m not sure how someone like Marks or Bowen isn’t thrown out there to help balance that out a bit. I could understand our lineup if we had spread the floor, let West draw doubles in the post and then swing it out of there, but that didn’t seem to be the game plan at all. And yet we stuck with that same unit on the floor for the final nine minutes of the ballgame, making no apparent adjustments to stop the Blazers’ run. Like I said: baffling.
  • For fairness and squareness, here’s YoungFella from the game thread comments with an opposing view:

    I’m going to take a different tack on the criticism of coach Scott tonight.

    Down the stretch our lineup prominently featured:

    “Tony Toni Tone” Daniels (11 year vet)
    Peja “Game 7” Stojakovic (10 year vet)
    “Mr. Efficient” James Posey (9 year vet)
    Rasual “Bop” Butler (6 year vet)
    David “Fluffy” West (5 year vet)

    These guys should be capable of closing out a double-digit lead. What is Scott going to to, call a timeout and diagram the offense? Seriously? He’s going to do that with 11 and 10 and 9 year veterans?

    I don’t think so. Not unless he wants a revolt on his hands. This one’s on the players.

  • Gotta give the Blazers credit for their poise. They overcame bad shooting early, a horrible start on the boards (the Hornets jumped out with a 14-9 advantage, including 7 offensive rebounds in the first quarter), some real sloppy passing in the third, and a 6-point game from their star player. But they never seemed to get frustrated. I can’t imagine them winning the game if Chris Paul hadn’t got hurt, but methinks we would have had to weather a serious fourth-quarter storm even with CP on the floor.
  • Notable that the Blazers got called for a bunch of iffy fouls in the first half but they didn’t bark much at the officials and lose focus. You know, like the Hornets often do. Which reminds me of super-fan Larry Lane’s sign at the game today: Less Whine, More Twine.
  • The Hornets played brilliantly on both sides of the ball in the first quarter. We rolled out as balanced an attack as I’ve seen all season, with four different guys responsible for our first five shots and everybody getting multiple looks. Chris Paul was phenomenal making up for that “assist drought” by dishing nine in the first frame alone. As mentioned, we also started out real tough on the glass, but that battle finished 52-32 in favor of the Blazers. Our defense was nice from the get-go, too. Portland weren’t shooting well early anyways, but we gave them very few clean looks at the basket. Lots of credit to good help D for slowing Brandon Roy, although Rasual Butler did a great job solo when he had to.
  • From the AP recap:

    Before Paul left, New Orleans shot 49 percent (29-of-59), racked up 20 assists and committed only two turnovers.

    Which means after CP left we shot 24 percent (5-of-21), racked up only 2 assists and committed five turnovers.

  • The likelihood of Travis Outlaw actually making a shot seems to increase exponentially the more closely that shot is contested. So next time, let’s leave that dude wide open.
  • None of our big guns shot well. David West shot 11-24, often going 1-on-3 in the fourth quarter. Peja got plenty of looks but was only 6-17 from the field. CP was only 3-11 shooting. James Posey played 28 minutes but took only two shots, which is probably a good thing since he missed them both and has been slumping horribly of late.
  • Jerryd Bayless made a huge difference for the Blazers. With Steve Blake out injured and Sergio Rodriguez not doing much of anything, Bayless came in and caused havoc in the backcourt. He looked to attack the basket almost every time down and Antonio Daniels couldn’t even dream of staying in front of him.
  • Nate McMillian made several adjustments throughout the game, constantly searching for a solution. You could see the Blazers making a conscious (and usually fruitful) effort to get the ball inside after timeouts. That fullcourt trap they sprung early in the fourth gave us problems; I’m surprised they didn’t stick with it for longer. The Blazers also went to a zone D for a few short spells throughout the game. I can’t recall exactly how effective that was for them. Interesting too seeing Rudy Fernandez guarding CP for a while in the third, though I think that was due to Portland being a little short-handed, and Rudy didn’t have much success with it anyways.
  • From louisianagyrl337 in the game thread comments:

    Portland picks up their 4th team foul at the 8:30 mark of the 4th. From that point on, we go to the line 4 times and make 3 of those. That happens when you’re a jumpshooting team.

Leaving this one behind and looking ahead, and we could be in for some rough waters if that injury sidelines Paul for a while. It doesn’t sound all that serious, but I believe it’s the type of injury there’s no good treatment for. You just have to be patient and wait for it to loosen up again. Let’s hope it doesn’t linger too long and we can get him back before the end of the week. He’s due to have an MRI tomorrow (Tuesday) so we should know more then.

And assuming we’re without Chris Paul for Wednsday’s game against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, who does Byron start at point guard?

Methinks there’s no good answer to that question.

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