The Blazers beat the Hornets

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Published: March 28, 2010

With about 8 minutes to go in the third quarter, the Hornets mathematical chances to reach the playoffs finally acknowledged what the rest of us have known for about three weeks:  The Hornets aren’t going to the playoffs.  At least for the first half, the team was working to stay in it, but Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge were simply on.

Roy, in particular, clamped his hands around the Hornets throats and slowly strangled them into submission.  The Hornets weren’t even guarding him poorly, he was just hitting every shot he took.  In fact, he didn’t step into the paint until midway through the third.  At that point he already had 18 points and had missed one shot.  His partner in crime, Aldridge, was doing much the same, though at least he was making forays into the paint before hitting mid-range shots over David West.

To be honest, those two outbursts were impressive showings by the Blazers, but they also have a lot to do with the Hornet’s primary  weakness:  They just aren’t big and athletic enough.  The backcourt of Thornton, Collison and Paul will have some good nights, but need at least two of them scoring to have a chance.  Paul was playmaking but not attacking, and Thornton had a disaster of a night(his first night I’d qualify of such.  Remarkable year, rookie.) Thornton just couldn’t get into the flow as he fought foul trouble after repeatedly fouling Roy after fighting around screens.  Even down low West did everything right when defending Aldridge, but the Portland power forward could simply extend his arms above his head and get a pretty clean shot.

Observations

  • Paul has yet to have an explosive scoring game since he’s come back.  Honestly, I expect to see one by the end of the season, but that’s probably about it.  I counted about seven plays tonight that earlier the season would have resulted in Paul attacking the basket aggressively.  He didn’t do that tonight, instead probing and looking for the open pass.  The guy’s returning from knee surgery.  It’s too be expected.
  • Collison didn’t miss a shot – and he did take half his shots as jumpers.  He had a nice game, and was usually the catalyst in what scoring runs the Hornets did put together, but he also was involved in a lot of turnovers that got credited to other players as well, dumping off weak passes that eventually got poked away, or setting up scrambles and jump balls.
  • James Posey hit some shots late in the game, so at least tonight he did what he was brought in to do.  Too bad the Hornets were already down 20 when he made them.
  • Aaron Gray has great promise as a backup center – if he can lose weight.  I’m not holding my breath.

That’s about it.  At this point, other than the way the mighty mouse guards play together, there isn’t much new that can be learned about the team.  I’ve already been able to construct most of my post-season review of the team and what the Front Office needs to focus on in the off-season.  Those posts should start coming out soon – along with a pair of contests/giveaways we have lined up to end the season.

Have a good night.

UPDATE: Game highlights from NBA.com…

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