Hornets suffer heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Clippers

Published: November 23, 2010

For the third game in a row the Hornets were in a dog fight in the fourth quarter against a vastly inferior team, but unlike the last two games David West could not carry the Hornets to victory. West led the Hornets with 30 points, but they were not enough as the Clippers outworked New Orleans in the paint all night.

After Brian Cook missed the second of two free throws with just over 15 seconds left, the Hornets had the ball down two and drew up a play for West, who took the ball hard down the lane before missing a contested floater. After a mad scramble, CP3 ended up with the ball in his hands and tried to hit West again under the basket but the ball bounced off his leg and with it, the Hornets lost any hope of pulling this one out.

After a horrible defensive first period in which the Hornets gave up 33 points, the defense got back into form, but it was the offense that then proceeded to sputter. Normally a good three-point shooting team, the Hornets struggled despite getting a number of good looks, finishing 6 for 20 from deep. Marco Belinelli and Trevor Ariza were both 4 of 11 from the field and Trevor Ariza missed two huge free throws with 24 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Chris Paul had 12 points half way through the first quarter, but finished with only 14 for the game as he was forced to jack up some bad shots due to a general lack of tempo on the offensive ned. Newcomer Jarrett Jack finished with 12 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds in just 16 minutes and combined with Paul for a steal that almost turned the game around.

Overall, it was an extremely disappointing loss for a Hornets team that had gotten off to such an inspiring start. Every NBA team is going to lose games this year to a team they should have beaten, but when it happens to your team knowing that fact doesn’t make it feel any better.

Notes and Observations

* Monty really trust his bench. Several times the Hornets trailed by 6 in the 4th and were in danger of going down by more but Monty Williams resisted the urge to put Paul in too early. He waited until the 6 minute mark and because of that CP3 was well rested for the home stretch. Of course if the Hornets win the game, we say it is a good thing. Since they lost, the knee-jerk reaction is to look at the box score and be mad CP3 only played 32 minutes. Personally, I think what Monty is doing big picture with Paul will be beneficial.

* First time I have seen Belinelli start a game with no energy whatsoever. I don’t know if he ate some bad Italian or if it was because it was a back-to-back, but it wasn’t the same old Marco. Hope he snaps out of it because we will need him the rest of the week.

* Okafor gets pushed under the basket time and time again when boxing out on free throws. He needs to stand his ground or teams are going to continue to get offensive rebounds off of free throw misses, which should never happen considering the defense has position and numbers.

* Quick scouting report on Jack: Has rare strength for a point guard. On two different occasions he finished an And One after some heavy contact. He also stood his ground on the defensive end against much bigger players. His shooting stroke is much more pure than Bayless or Collison’s and it should allow him to be fairly consistent, although it looks like 18-20 feet is better for him than 21-23 feet. On the negative side, he tends to throw far too many cross court passes and lacks the quickness to stay with guys with elite quickness. Overall, though, a huge upgrade.

* Pops enters the game and immediately picks up a technical for defensive three seconds. Then in a span of 12 seconds he picks up 2 fouls, including an And One. Then just for good measure he picks up his 3rd foul one minute later. Hornets lead goes from 10 to 6 in the one minute he is in. ‘rm’- no posts about Pops for a week. No exceptions.

* Willie Green must have taken Jarrett Jack out to Subway before the game because Jack was consistently looking for him, even if someone else was wide open two feet from him. A little odd.

* Mbenga did a good job where Pops failed, grabbing some offensive boards and keeping some other possessions alive in the first half. If not for his inability to do anything whatsoever offensively, he really wouldn’t be a bad option as the back-up 5.

* When Blake Griffin gets the chance to leave the miserable Clippers, I believe he will and when he does I pray he goes out East because that guy is a straight beast. Shawn Kemp with handles, intensity, and a jumper. Scary.

* Ariza seems to force offense if he hasn’t gotten the ball in a few possessions. Normally he lets the offense come to him, but once in a while he gets antsy and leaves you wondering what he was thinking. And speaking of Ariza, does anybody else notice that CP3 looks him off a lot more than he did earlier in the season? Just an observation and something to watch for. In addition, Ariza’s weak side rebounding was atrocious tonight. When West and Okafor are challenging on one side, Ariza HAS to get that rebound.

* Thank God DeAndre Jordan doesn’t have any offensive skills because his length and quickness would be too much for Okafor. Hornets had a hard time keeping him out of the paint and West/Okafor just aren’t long enough.

* Not gonna say that Jack is a better player than Collison, but I could argue he is the better fit for this team. Unlike Collison he could play with Paul if need be and his physicalness is something the Hornets need at the guard position. With all we know now, I don’t think anybody can argue that Collison, Posey, and a first rounder likely to be in the mid to late 20’s is worth giving up for Ariza and Jack.

* Point blank- If the Hornets don’t tighten back up a beat down is coming for them soon and there might even be multiple ones with Utah and San Antonio looming this week. Maybe they will turn it on for 48 minutes agains good teams, but if they don’t and they play like they have the last three games they will get crushed. Their lack of size is starting to get exposed and teams are coming to play hard against them every night. The Hunter has officially become the Hunted.


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