The Grizzlies Beat the Hornets

Published: October 9, 2010

The Memphis Grizzlies beat the Hornets, or rather the end of their bench, in the first preseason game of the year New Orleans. The final score (97-90) really didn’t tell the story as the Hornets clearly didn’t try to win, so just ignore that and move on. It was a positive loss for the Hornets and they showed that their starters are top-notch.

Monty chose to play the expected starting five together for the first nine minutes of the game, where they took advantage of their superiority and grabbed a 26-12 lead. At that point Monty took out just about everybody and within the next 90 seconds the second unit of Willie Green, Thornton, Joe Alexander, Peja and Aaron Gray was on the floor together. Even more than was anticipated, things fell apart offensively.

By the time Monty subbed Paul and West back in, seven and half minutes later, the score was 31-27. Even with Peja and Marcus on the floor, it was a scene eerily reminiscent of past years when backup point guard was a nightly concern. Sigh…

As the starters came back out onto the court, Marcus Thornton stayed on for a while longer, as he’s expected to do throughout the season. One surprise, considering he didn’t see any time at point guard, was his three first half turnovers in less than 12 minutes. He was fantastic last year at holding on to the rock.

David West threw a sweet full court pass to Trevor Ariza with about 6:30 left in the third quarter, giving us all a reminder of how good Ariza is in transition. It seemed like somewhat of a set play, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to some see alternatives to Chris Paul taking it up the court in the future.

Heading into the fourth quarter, with the team leading 74-71, Mustafa Shakur, Pops Mensah-Bonsu (come up with nickname, PLEASE), Watkins, and Darryl Strawberry had yet to see the floor.  Pops started the fourth, but was seemed out of sync on defense and made a selfish keep on a three on one break that led to only a single free throw. Shakur and Watkins saw some time as well, but didn’t do anything noteworthy. It’s not looking as if any of them will be anything more than back of the rotation fodder for the foreseeable future.

Early on it seemed that Monty was coaching to win the game, but it was his lineup with 6:00 to go in the fourth, and the Hornets in a tight game, that really made it clear he didn’t care- Pops, Thornton, Shakur, Watkins, and Pondexter. When the game ended, that same lineup was still on the floor.

You can’t blame Monty for wanting to get the young guys some time, but in the fourth quarter the game turned into something out of summer league. Gone were the set plays and well executed offense from the first quarter and in it’s place fans were treated to sloppy shot selection, poor rebounding and ball handling, and just plain ugly basketball. Let’s just say that it would be really helpful if New Orleans could stay healthy this year.

The Hornets lost this game, but the plus minus numbers from the starters told the real story. They were all between +11 and +17.

Player Notes

Marco Belinelli- Of all the off season acquisitions, this one might be the most underrated and potentially best for the Hornets.  Already a deadly three point shooter, Marco stands to benefit mightily from Chris Paul’s effect on three point shooters. The Hornets offense is best when they have a long bomber in there to spread the floor for Paul. With Peja heading to the bench, Marco needs to be that guy, and it’s looking like he will do just fine. He was calling offensive plays, handling the ball, playing solid defense, cutting and making disgusting 360 degree passes to Trevor Ariza in the corner. He should be an upgrade over Morris Peterson and Rasual Butler, and will allow Marcus to come off the bench where he is most valuable.

Trevor Ariza- His perimeter defense is a game changer, quite literally. Although Zach Randolph had a field day inside, Ariza showed that teams will no longer be able to penetrate the Hornets interior defense like last year. That’s good news for David West and Emeka Okafor.

Joe Alexander- He seems to jump just as high in the low altitude of New Orleans as he does anywhere else. He was seeing time as the primary backup three, with Peja taking time at the four.

Aaron Gray- He’s lost weight, he’s more agile, and he seems to have kept his size and rebounding skill. Although offensively he wasn’t anything to marvel at, and on the defensive end he still commits too many fouls, he’s a solid backup center, and certainly brings more to the table than Hilton Armstrong, Melvin Ely, or Darius Songaila (at the center position at least).

Quincy Pondexter- Remember that excitement that everyone used to feel about Julian Wright? Well, that’s how you should feel about Q-Pon. He’s a player to watch this year, and could go a long way toward solidifying the bench if he works hard. If he can bring the defense, he might earn some important minutes with the second unit.

Marcus Thornton- He was still handling the rock a good amount, specifically with the second unit. He was aggressive, fearless, and worked especially hard on the defensive end of the floor. He doesn’t look like someone who is willing to accept just good, but instead aspires for greatness.  Oh, and he was off. Like, really off. He finished the game 2-12 with 4 turnovers. Don’t be worried. It’s only preseason.

Chris Paul- Bet you forgot about this guy, huh? Long story short, he looked great all over. If the injury is at all lingering, he doesn’t show it. he finished with 12 points on 7 shots, 4 assists and a single turnover. It’s nice to see him back healthy.

Okafor- He rebounded very well, and showed yet again how important he is to the team. If he’s not grabbing rebounds, the team will struggle in that regard.

New fan competitions

The Tissue Pull- a lucky (is that the right word?) fan gets to go onto the middle of the court during a commercial break and attempt to pull out all the tissues from two tissue boxes, alternating between hands. They have one minute total. Seems run, but in reality there are no means of really controlling how tissues they pull out at a time. The woman tonight cheated by pulling out 5, even 10 at a time. If you ever find yourself in at center court, it’s advisable that you bend the rules.

P.S.- Hornets247 has full season credentials this year, so get ready for all the in-depth coverage you can stomach.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.