Hornets fall to Bobcats in OT

Published: October 20, 2010

The Hornets pulled out all the stops in order to try and end their preseason skid (including playing CP3 40+ minutes!!), but still fell short to the Bobcats 106-97 in overtime. The Hornets seemed to have the game in hand, leading 88-81 with 2:14 remaining, but they could not close Charlotte out due to poor defense, dumb fouls, and the inability to control the lane down the stretch.

On a good note, the Hornets started off red hot in David West’s first game back, going up by as many as 14 points in the 1st quarter. CP3 was finding people early and often. On the first play of the game he hit D West for an open jumper, and Paul finished the quarter with 6 assists in 10 minutes of play. As well as Paul played; however, the first quarter was the Marco Belinelli show. On the next three possessions after West’s jumper, Marco sank back to back to back threes, including one from nearly thirty feet out after a broken play. He finished the game 6 of 10 from three, scoring 25 points in 33 minutes.

Defensively the Hornets struggled, especially with staying in front of their men and avoiding fouls. Gray and Pops foul per minute averages were horrible and nobody on the front line seemed to have enough quickness to stay in front of Tyrus Thomas, who along with Steven Jackson, created the majority of the fouls. As for the perimeter defense, an optimist would say the Hornets defended the three-point line relatively well and a pessimist would say the Bobcats simply missed some shots that a team like Orlando would drill in their sleep. Depends on how you choose to see it I guess.

The strangest thing about this game was the absence of two of New Orleans key cogs- Emeka Okafor and Marcus Thornton. Neither has any injury issues that we know of, and neither is so well versed in the new system that they couldn’t benefit from time on the court. Speculation is not supposed to be a part of game recaps, but it is hard not to wonder if Dell Demps is having conversations behind closed doors about these two players specifically.

As for the race for the final 2-3 roster spots, nobody stood out in this game particularly. Mbenga had some nice moments in the first quarter, but turned the ball over quite a bit later in the game. After his MVP like performance on Monday, Pops didn’t stand out and was overmatched by the younger and more explosive Thomas when he tried to cover him.  Neither Curtis Jerrells nor DJ Strawberry did anything to distinguish themselves as a guy who should make this roster, let alone get any playing time once the season starts. If I had to guess, I think the Hornets will keep Jerrells due to his upside, however I think he will start the season in the D-League where he will continue his transition to becoming a pass-first PG.

Finally, Peja gave a spark at the beginning of the 4th quarter when the Hornets seemed to be dragging a bit. People get on Peja because he hasn’t lived up to his contract, but it is not his fault that he was offered that money? If somebody wants to pay you like that, would you turn it down? The fact is that his salary is his salary and nothing can be done about that. What we have to look at moving forward is whether or not he is a productive player regardless of his salary, and I think he is. His stats at the end of the game were not a reflection of how he played because he was forced to take several bad threes at the end of overtime because the Hornets were trailing.

There are not many guys in the league I would prefer over Peja if my objective were to stretch a defense or hit a three in transition.  He won’t do much more than that, but if he can give 100% for 20-25 minutes a game, and teams have to account for him at all times, then he is a dangerous weapon even if he is not hitting on that particular night. When “experts” talk about the bench being the Hornets biggest weakness, it is not because of Peja. That blame can be attributed to our limited big man and a shooting guard who is being forced to play PG. But that will be a rant for another day.


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