Game On: Hornets @ Jazz

By:
Published: November 24, 2010

According to Hornets fans, the sky is falling after Monday night’s loss to the Clippers, but regardless of the impending doom, New Orleans still has a game to play tonight against the Jazz. It wasn’t just Monday’s loss that has Hornets fans worried, as the Hornets were exposed in several areas during their wins last week against Cleveland and Sacramento as well. Despite the 11-2 record, it is apparent that the defense might not be the elite unit their stats portray them to be and the offense is limited in certain areas.

Despite all of that, a win tonight against Utah would go a long way towards solidifying the Hornets as an early season contender in the West. That is going to be easier said than down however as the Jazz have won 6 of the last 7 against New Orleans and generally owned the Hornets since both D Will and CP3 entered the league. While history does not always dictate the future, New Orleans has to be aware that it is Utah’s physicalness and tenacity that has killed them in the past and this Hornets team, more than any other, is built to combat those attributes.

For the first time since they entered the league, it can be argued that CP3 has the deeper and perhaps more talented supporting cast. While Paul Milsap has been a revelation for Utah, Al Jefferson has disappointed so far and Raja Bell and AK47 are on the backside of their careers. CJ Miles is talented, but extremely inconsistent and it would be kind if I were to call the rest of the bench average.

Of course Jerry Sloan still mans the bench and because of that you know that Utah will get the most out of each and every one of its players. Also, you know that this Utah team will never give up, as is evidenced by their five 15+ point second half comebacks already this season.

After Monday’s loss, CP3 was quoted as stating “They say winning cures all. But hopefully, with this loss, we’ll get back to paying attention to what we’ve got to do as a unit defensively.” For Hornets fans ready to press the panic button, let’s just hope CP3 walks out of Utah tonight with that Winning Cure All.

What the Hornets need to do on Offense:

Despite Al Jefferson’s impressive career numbers and Paul Milsap’s breakout season, neither player is known to have a reputation as even an average individual defender. Looking beyond the two starters, the Jazz have Kyrylo Fesenko and Francisco Elson as their backup bigs and neither of those players strike fear into the heart of fellow NBA players. With David West catching fire as of late, averaging 24 PPG over his last three, he will undoubtably be the focal point of the offense tonight. Utah’s best matchup for West, in fact, might be AK47 because his quickness and length could give West problems on the perimeter. However, in those situations where he is on West, expect the Hornets to get the ball to West down low where he can use his strength.

West shouldn’t be the only Hornet who benefits from Utah’s lack of a defensive presence in the interior, as Belinelli and Ariza have proven to be fairly efficient when attacking the rim so far this season. In addition, CP3 should be able to get into the paint and draw defenders, while Willie Green can attack the defense from the wings and corners.

Where Utah has really been exposed, however, is on the boards as their defensive rebounding rate is only 62.74%, which is among the worst in the league. That means that of every five missed shots by an opposing team, Utah only manages to grab a little over 3 of them. While the Hornets are not a good offensive rebounding team, Okafor has been great this year and keeping possessions alive and the combo of West and Jason Smith have been active, averaging nearly 4 offensive rebounds per game combined.

The danger that the Hornets face is relying too much on the inside game and/or David West on isolation plays. While it is tempting to continually pound Utah’s weakness, it limits the involvement that other players have on the game, which is why Utah has been so effective in shutting teams down in the second half. Utah sets a trap where they let you have certain things early, and then when they take them away from you, then you are forced to choose between two options: Be stubborn and keep pounding away against double teams or Give the ball up to cold shooters who weren’t previously involved. It’s quite a brilliant strategy for an undermanned team to be honest, but the Hornets can not fall for Utah’s Rope-A-Dope. They must vary their offense, attack the rim, and keep everyone involved.

What the Hornets Must do on Defense:

It has been no secret that in years past that the Utah Jazz simply outworked and outhustled the Hornets on both ends of the court. They came off the bench with guys like Matt Harpring and Paul Milsap, who just pounded an already tired Hornets team into submission. Their quality of depth was evident and Jerry Sloan’s system allowed the Jazz to slowly pick apart the Hornets to the point where most games weren’t even in reach by the 4th quarter.

The Jazz have lost some of that depth and toughness, with guys like Ronnie Brewer and Matt Harpring leaving town and Paul Milsap forced to become a starter due to the departure of Carlos Boozer. Combine that with Okur’s injury and the addition of Al Jefferson, and the new look Jazz are more of a finesse team that relies on simply outscoring the opposition on any given night.

They still are fairly provicient on the offensive galss, which is surprising considering how poor they are on the defensive glass, but guys like Paul Milsap and Al Jefferson pull down their share of offensive rebounds. Where the Jazz seem to live and die this year is at the three-point line. When they are hitting, they can go off for 120+ points, but when guys like CJ Miles can’t find his stroke, they are an average offensive team at best.

On the season the Jazz are shooting 34% from behind the arc, but in their losses they are shooting under 25% from deep, while they are shooting over 40% in their wins. Guys like CJ Miles and RajaBell have the ability to light it up from three or have terrible shooting nights, and the Hornets defense has to do its best to make sure tonight is the latter.

Of course the Hornets number one focus has to be to stop Utah’s formidable pick and roll combo of Deron Williams and Paul Milsap. In a lot of ways it will be like looking in a mirror for CP3 and David West, with a few slight exceptions. Although Milsap does pop on occassion, he is more likely to roll to the basket than West and Deron is more likely to shoot the ball if defenders go under than Paul. Okafor has to be a presence in the middle and Ariza has to do a much better job of rebounding and boxing out on the weak side if the Hornets are going to walk out of Utah tonight with a win.

Vegas Zone

The Hornets come into the game as underdogs for only the second time in the last eight games, as the Jazz are 4 point favorites at home. Gamblers seem to agree with Vegas as 73% of those voting on the money line are picking Utahdespite the Hornets being +155. When you factor in the spread, however, 79% of gamblers are taking the Hornets +4, so expect that line to move to 3 or 3.5 by game time.

The over/under is 193 and a slight majority is taking the under. I am 1-3 so far this year, so odds say I am due to nail one of these. I will take Utah minus 4 and the under. Sorry to say it Hornets fans (and I am praying I am wrong), but I got Utah 97 Hornets 89.

NBA 2K11 Sim

In retrospect, perhaps I should have posted the 2K sim for the Clippers game since LA did in fact win the match up on Monday night. At the time it seemed more improbable than The Miz winning the WWE Championship, but both happened in a two hour span, so what do I know.

So, here is the sim for tonight’s game. If it goes anything like it does in the sim, then we are sure to be entertained, but might be cranky when we are with our families tomorrow afternoon due to a lack of sleep and the frustration of another close loss.


189 comments
L_Reazy
L_Reazy

'42' ... we are a playoff team. I know that. I felt that way even when we were 1-7 in the preseason. I want more though, and we can get more than just playoffs if we get rid of a few loose ends. David West, Thornton, Green, J. Smith, Okafor, Ariza, and Belinelli made Chris Paul look like the 2nd best PG in the NBA tonight. Deron William's team is just better ... so it's easy for him to rack up assist and have a good game. The league doesn't see it that way. They believe Williams is better by way of stats. I'm not suggesting we get rid of all of the names that I mentioned, but they have to be 'MONSTERS' when they play these Elite teams. I'm tired of people saying our record is a fluke ... but ... we proved them right tonight! I hate proving others right when I truly believe they aren't. Chris Paul still has to work too damn hard against the Jazz, and maybe even the Lakers, Celtics, and Magic still! I'm frustrated because I see something in this team ... they can go deep into the playoffs if they were a 'wee-bit' tougher. David West gets killed by tougher players all the time, and I'm tired of seeing that. I thought it would be different this year, but he is still soft ... to a degree ... and that degree is the Elite Teams! Maybe I'm overreacting about Marcus Thornton ... but atleast stop calling him 'Buckets' ... see, that's just plain-old irritating ... especially when he doesn't hit any. L_Reazy

JCS
JCS

Some girl who's hot for Thorton came up with the Buckets nickname. Definitely wasn't my first choice, and with the way he's playing now, he wouldn't be my third.

42
42

I think we're on the same page about the team. There's are a couple of threads in the forum you may enjoy that are focused on these issues. You may find them more satisfying since they are dedicated to a topic, so the discussion won't be strewn throughout various game day threads here in the posts.

QueenBee
QueenBee

Just heared Gil said against a system like Utah the Hornets have to do a much better job defensively. I agree with that. As for Marcus, he's a shooter. Shooters are streaky. He has to find a rhythm. I would imagine that is hard to do when your PT is also streaky. He can get to the rim but tonight he appeared to be trying to do too much. I think he ended up with at least 2 offensive fouls. He probably wants to make so sure he plays well, that he's messing up. I agree with peronas. West has to stop bringing the ball so low when they're coming at him like that. All they want to do is slap and hack the ball away from you. And they succeed at that. If we were slapping and hacking, the whistles would be blown out of the building and into the slushy snow. I should've figured that all of these articles on how happy CP3 is would jinx us. Now we're losing.

42
42

Pish-posh, pish posh. The Heat lost tonight, which means no losses count tonight, right?

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

I'll play Devil's Advocate: The Mavs, Kings, Clippers, and Jazz exposed something significant about the Hornets. Even though we play lockdown defense at times we still lack toughness inside yawl. Its sad but true! Get Samuel Dalembert! L_Reazy

42
42

It's true. You got it. We'll get there. We don't have to be there now, right? We just can't slam the door on the playoffs while we are getting right.

Go Blue
Go Blue

Agree. Okafor has more good games than bad, but we really need a back-up center with some toughness!!!

JCS
JCS

Agreed. Aaron Gray's numbers are a joke.

42
42

I'm not terribly worried. Not only do these things happen inevitably, but we've got new bench pieces we're working in. It's also our worst road trip of the season. I'm not happy, but I don't see this as a predictor of how we'll do in most games. I hesitate to say we don't match up will since we've turned the team over since our last game against them, but I tell you their assist total is what is jumping out at me. Gray seemed to be about the same: a third stringer. Marcus' D seemed to be improved, as noted above, but those turnover via foul were killer. At least the dude his getting time. I'm behind you, buddy.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

One more thing ... please stop hyping up Marcus Thornton ... PLEASE! If he was going to prove something he would have done it against the Clippers and Jazz ... I'm done waiting for this dude. The team is struggling for points ... which means ... perfect time for him to take over like last year ... am I right about that? That's what I keep reading right? If we're struggling for points how come Monty doesn't put 'Buckets' in? Trade this dude ASAP ... Please Dell! I'm frustrated! L_Reazy

42
42

L_Reazy: When you say please stop, it frustrates me just the same as when other folks claim that Marcus would have magically sunk some important, momentum-swinging bucket. Point to things; it will help. Offensive fouls. You could point to him zigging when Green thought he was zagging, but that could be a function of limited minutes and not a lack of ability+brains. He had a couple of nice hustle plays: trying to scoop up a loose ball, saving a bounding-out-of-bounds-ball. He also got to the line. He did seem like he may have been hogging the ball. Byron said championship teams don't lose 3 in a row. Right or wrong, let's follow Byron's lead on this one . . . .

Forever504
Forever504

he didnt play against the clippers

Forever504
Forever504

its just 3 Ls just look at some of the teams we have already beaten. It was just a BAD night for everybody

Go blue
Go blue

I don't get why Willie was/is still handling the ball. Give the ball to Jack, darn it. Ever since the bench fell behind in the 2nd quarter, we couldn't catch back up. Is it really that hard to catch a pass and shot the ball? Honestly, why should CP3 have to work so hard to find them open shots, just for them to dribble into a defender and throw up a ridiculous shot? -_- Side note: Trevor did a pretty good job defending (AK47 was 0-6).

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

Yeah, Chris Paul is getting tired of losing to these kind of teams ... this is frustrating ... it's only a matter of time before he ..... ! It's not about the good record ... he wants to beat these elite teams! ...so we got the Blazers, Spurs, & Thunder next ... it was fun while it lasted. I hope I am wrong. 11-3 and counting ... Ws or Ls? L_Reazy

Nik
Nik

not watchin anymore... the sky IS falling

tyler
tyler

Well I can't watch anymore

Hornet
Hornet

I turned off my stream. This is embarrassing. Happy Thanksgiving Hornets fans. Good night.

peronas
peronas

And I'm done with this game...

dhfdjuf
dhfdjuf

The hornets just staright up got they're asses handed to them

peronas
peronas

Wests gotta stop bringing the ball so low with as much help as they are bringing

QueenBee
QueenBee

You need to play man to man defense against the Jazz. Look how much contact West had to endure before they blew that whistle. GTFO. Happy Thanksgiving Hornets fans. Talk to you all on Friday.

QueenBee
QueenBee

Oh and every team in the SW division gets a W tonight except the Hornets. So sad. SMH.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

Our BIGS never do well against Utah man! It's starting to really piss me off. Maybe David West is part of the problem. How many rebounds does he have? 5? Get tough ... DAMN!!! L_Reazy

Dmon3k
Dmon3k

I miss Dwest. A lot. Oh wait he's still on the team... and playing tonight?

tyler
tyler

if the starters was still in in the second quarter we would of been up

QueenBee
QueenBee

Just checking in and see Emeka getting his ish knocked away because he's going up so effing weak. Still not missing anything. Let me go finish my stuffing. LOL.

Hornet
Hornet

I miss Tyson. A lot.

QueenBee
QueenBee

We didn't beat the Jazz when Tyson was here either. LOL!!

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

Marcus Thornton is TRASH! Missing Shots ... got broke off by Deron Williams. Is their any more discussion as to why he does not play? L_Reazy

peronas
peronas

It's not like Williams is some scrub he's crossed up plenty of guys with that crossover

Forever504
Forever504

they ALL missed shots and even chris cant shut deron down

tyler
tyler

Sorry to say this but the HORNETS BENCH SUCKS!!!

Forever504
Forever504

the bench looks like they have never played together before

MaxALM
MaxALM

WE NEED ANOTHER BIG MAN

peronas
peronas

I think everyone should start dogging Smith again like the very beginning of the season. Set a fire under him again... Hey it worked last time...

QueenBee
QueenBee

Hornets never win in Utah. When Devin Brown dropped 30 in there that was an anomaly. LOL. I'm going cook.

DownUnder
DownUnder

Thats how u beat Utah, Rebounding!

Hornet
Hornet

Where's the defense? For a team that prides itself on defense, the past 2 games ours has looked awful.

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

later y'all after that 3 ft play i'm done with this game, team is playing like spit and the refs are only making it worse. at to that i hate the jazz more than any other team. have a good night and happy thanksgiving

42
42

I hate Dallas.

JLImagine
JLImagine

Wow, we really struggle with this team. Playing pretty sloppy tonight. Too many dumb turnovers, poor shot selection, and shotty defense. With that said the Jazz are playing amazing. Smart of them to add Jefferson after losing Boozer?

QueenBee
QueenBee

I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. As soon as Licht said CP didn't have any turnovers, he gets bumped alongside the baseline and to avoid going out of bounds with the ball, he tries to pass it and turns it over. That's another reason I like to keep my tv on mute. LOL.

peronas
peronas

Terrible terrible defense