Game On: Nets @ Hornets

Published: December 22, 2010

The Hornets hope to put an end to their two game losing streak as they welcome the New Jersey Nets and their 3-12 road record into the Big Easy tonight. The Nets are on the second night of a back to back, as last night they beat Memphis thanks to steller efforts by Brook Lopez and the newly acquired Sasha Vujacic. The win snapped a ten game road losing streak for the Nets.

Recent reports have New Jersey very much in the hunt for Carmelo Anthony again, and the team has basically let it be known that any player outside of Brook Lopez is available. For now, the Nets will go with what they have, which is a decent mixture of young talent and middle of the road veterans.

As for the Hornets, they have hit another rough patch after a couple of wins that made it appear like New Orleans was on the right track. They could have easily won either Sunday’s game at Detroit or the following night’s game at Indiana, but they instead suffered heartbreaking defeats in both. Recently Monty Williams called out the supporting cast, saying point blank that some of the other guys have to step up.

I, for one, could not agree with him more and I have said such on several occasions- as have many of you. We’ve seen some of the other role players put together two or three solid games in a row, but then they disappear for a week or two. Ariza looked great against Utah, but was miserable in the last two games. Marco shows up against bad teams early in games but is often nowhere to be found down the stretch and he tends to have his worst games against good teams. Emeka looks like an All-Star against Miami and Indiana, but kills the team with defensive 3 seconds, missed free throws, and offensive fouls. What this team needs is a 3rd guy who will be there night-in and night-out and I think what Monty is saying is that he will give the guys currently on the roster every chance to prove they can be that guy, but if they don’t, then they are outta here.


Point Guard: CP3 vs. Devin Harris

Advantage: Hornets

Harris is a middle of the road point guard in a league where the position is simply stacked, and it seems likely that he will be moved before February’s trade deadline. He scores the ball fairly eficiently and he can play above average defense when he is focused, but he turns the ball over too much and takes too many 3-pointers for a guy who has only made 30% from distance over the course of his career. Based on basketball IQ and fundamentals, CP3 should dominate this matchup.

Shooting Guard: Marco Belinelli vs. Stephen Graham

Advantage: Hornets

Stephen Graham has taken the place of Anthony Morrow in the starting lineup since Morrow went down with an injury last week. This will be Graham’s 3rd straight start and he actually played fairly well in his first two starts, averaging 9.5 points on 60% shooting in just over 31 MPG. Marco, meanwhile, tends to shine against poor teams and is much better at home this year than he is on the road (13 PPG and 43.5% vs 10 PPG and 39.6%).

Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Travis Outlaw

Advantage: Even

I’m sorry, but I just can’t give Ariza the advantage right now over any small forward in the league with the way he has looked these past two games. The only ray of hope that I can find in the stats, is that Ariza actually has played his best games coming off of 1 days rest, averaging 2 more PPG than when he has zero days rest and 4 more PPG than when he has 2 or more days of rest. Man, I am really reaching to find something positive, huh?

As for Outlaw, he has been solid, but like Ariza this season, he is showing that he is not worth the 7 million dollar a year contract given to him. He is averaging pretty much the same stats as Ariza across the board, although he is shooting higher percentages in all 3 categories. Ariza holds the advantage on the defensive end and in the assist column, but these two are basically a wash at this point.

Power Forward: David West vs. Kris Humphries

Advantage: Hornets

What a banner year for Kris Humphries. He goes from NBA also-ran to starting power forward on a team owned by the Russian mob and is reportedly dating Reggie Bush’s old girl. The Nets acquired Troy Murphy this summer to be their starting power forward, but Humphries has been holding down the spot since early November and is doing quite well. He is only averaging 7.9 PPG, but he is shooting 54% and has been one of those hustle guys other teams hate to face, as evidenced by his 9.1 rebounds per game in just 25 minutes.

I have a gut feeling that Reggie will get in West’s ear and get him to go off on journeyman Kris, but it should be an entertaining match-up to watch. Expect to hear a lot of “And One!!”

Center: Emeka Okafor vs. Brook Lopez

Advantage: Nets

Emeka straight dominated another up and coming eastern conference center on Monday night, as he simply owned Roy Hibbert. Hibbert, however, isn’t exactally the most nimble of NBA centers, and Emeka was able to exploit his lack of balance. I doubt he will be able to do the same thing to Lopez, who is one of the more gifted and athletic centers in the league. The best Emeka could hope for is to push Lopez out of the paint and hope his jumper is not falling. On the other end, hopefully Emeka can be aggressive and get Lopez into foul trouble.

Bench: Jarrett Jack, Marcus Thornton, Quincy Pondexter, Jason Smith, DJ Mbenga vs. Troy Murphy, Derrick Favors, Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar

Advatage: Nets

The Hornets bench has been a no-show as of late, with the exception of two stellar performances by Thornton last week and some improved play by Jack. Meanwhile, the Nets have a guy in Murphy who has always given D West problems, two ex-champions in Farmar and Vujacic and an exciting young rookie in Favors who gives that team plenty of energy.

Other News and Notes:

– Nets have the best WAGS in the NBA: Beyonce (Jay-Z), Maria Sharapova (Vujacic), and Kim Kardashian (Humphries) and they all probably pale in comparison to the type of women their owner pulls. Just hoping they all bring their lovely ladies to the game, that’s all I’m sayin.

– Okay, watch these two clips and tell me that Lopez will not be the man to beat for the role of Giant when they remake The Princess Bride.

– Vujacic is averaging 10.7 PPG in the three games since joining New Jersey.

– The Willie Green tragedy just gets worse. Reports say that his cousin was well over the legal limit at the time of the crash. I know it is the holiday season, but everyone- please be careful and lean from this tragedy.

-The Save Our Hornets Foundation is sending over 50 kids to the game. Thanks for helping out the cause. Pictures/video of the smiling youngsters will be available afterward.

– Thanks again to Dariusz Ejkiewicz for the banner. Guy does such good work, I am going to hire him for some outside projects of mine.


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