Game On: Hornets @ T’Wolves
This might be one of the only times I am glad the Hornets are on the road. The New Orleans Saints play their biggest game of the season tonight, and with Minnesota as the opposing team for the Hornets, there is little doubt that plenty of seats would be open if the game were at home. With only a few games left before the attendance benchmark is either reached or not reached, we need every break that we can get to ensure the Hornets are in New Orleans for years to come.
As for the game itself, Minnesota is not exactly the pushover that they have been in years past. While it is true that they are only 7-24 overall and 2-17 on the road after their last second win at Cleveland last night, the fact is that Minnesota has been in a lot of their losses late in the game and they possess plenty of young talent, especially on the front line.
The Hornets, meanwhile, come into this game off of two straight wins and have won 4 of their last six. They also have been fantastic on the glass as of late, outrebounding their opponents by over 11 per game over the last seven games. That is going to be hard to do tonight, as Minnesota comes into this game as the number one rebounding team in the league. They average over 45 a game, and nearly 14 of them come on the offensive glass. Since Minnesota shoots under 44% from the field and turn the ball over more than 17 times per game, they need each and every possession in order to keep up with teams. I say “keep up” because that is exactly what Minnesota needs to do because they give up a league high 109.6 PPG.
Point Guard: Chris Paul vs. Luke Ridnour
Jonny Flynn is back and the Knicks (among other teams) are said to be interested in Ridnour, but for now he is holding down the starting point guard spot and doing a fairly good job doing it. He is shooting over 46% from the field and 45% from three-point land, not to mention the guy almost never misses a free throw. He possesses a 2.5 to 1 turnover to assist ratio which is below average for starting NBA point guards and his defense leaves a lot to be desired in man to man situations, although he isn’t horrible as a team defender.
Ridnour is 175 pounds soaking wet, so he tends to get lost on screens. The Hornets run more pick and rolls and/or pick and pops than almost anybody in the league, so expect this to be a huge advantage when Ridnour is on the court.
Shooting Guard: Marco Belinelli vs. Wesley Johnson
You know the drill with Marco by now- poor against good teams, good against poor teams. The T’Wolves are the worst defensive team in the league and Wesley Johnson is a rookie who is playing out of position. If Marco can’t get it going tonight, I don’t know when he will.
Wesley Johnson has shown flashes so far this season, but they have been few and far between. As I mentioned, he is playing out of position because Minnesota wants to be able to court all three of their building blocks in the starting lineup. Defensively, Johnson can stay with most two guards, but offensively he just lacks the consistency to make teams respect his outside stroke.
He only takes about 8 shots per game, and nearly half of them are from three, where he is shooting 37%. That is not Johnson’s game, though. He should be attacking the rim more and getting out in transition where he can use his athleticism, but unfortunately they have Ridnour manning the point, not Ricky Rubio, so he is stuck in a role that does not quite fit. And people wonder why Minnesota has all that talent and a 7-24 record.
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Michael Beasley
Michael Beasley cost the Timberwolves a 2nd round pick, Trevor Ariza cost the Hornets Darren Collison. Kinda stings, doesn’t it? To be fair, however, Beasley is putting up numbers for a bad team and it is likely his personality would have clashed with more professional veterans like CP3, West, and Okafor.
In Minnesota, Beasley is racking up numbers that will get him paid in his next contract but probably will never translate to wins. He leads the team in scoring at 21.6 PPG, but he doesn’t do much else. 6 rebounds, less than 2 assists, less than a block, and less than one steal per game, while turning the ball over nearly 3 times per game means that Beasley can only really hurt you one way.
Ariza should be able to use his length to bother Beasley’s outside shot, but I don’t know if he can lock him down in the post. On the offensive end, Ariza should use his quickness to get by Beasley, but the question is whether or not he will be able to finish at the rim. He also has had problems driving and kicking to open teammates this season, as most of those plays lead to turnovers. When Ariza puts the ball on the floor, you just cover your eyes and hope for the best. Expect a lot of that tonight.
Power Forward: David West vs. Kevin Love
I know Kevin Love is the hot new flavor of the month, and most would say this is even at best, but I disagree. I know Love is a beast on the boards and he might have more range on his shot than West, but David is by far the more efficient player and he just makes winning plays. Ask the Lakers, the Celtics, the Magic, the Heat, etc. which player they would want if they could want for the playoffs and they would all say West.
Love has gorgeous stats, but like Charles Barkley says, “Stats are like bikinis- they look nice, but they don’t tell the whole story.” Kevin’s stat line reads as follows: 20.8 PPG, 15.7 RPG, 45% from the field and 44% from three. Those are once in a generation type stats; 20 and 15 hasn’t been done in decades- yet this team has only won 7 games. If he was really that good of a player, this team wouldn’t be so horrible.
Center: Emeka Okafor vs. Darko Milicic
Two guys who were drafted No.2 overall in their respective drafts and have been much maligned because of it. It is neither guys fault that they were taken so high, and it is not Darko’s fault that Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh were all taken after him and became superstars. It is not Emeka’s fault that the Bobcats panicked and game him a monster contract either.
These two guys are who they are and that means Darko is a legit 7 footer who can be a defensive presence in games that he doesn’t get into foul trouble and Emeka is a guy who will go out there every night and get you a double-double or something close to it.
Emeka has been playing wonderful as of late and this is another matchup that he could potentially dominate, although Milicic’s length could give Okafor trouble when he tries to post him up. The Hornets would be wise to use Emeka in the pick and roll game more tonight rather than just feeding him the ball in the post against Darko.
Bench: Jarrett Jack, Marcus Thornton, Quincy Pondexter, Jason Smith, DJ Mbenga vs. Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington, Corey Brewer, Martell Webster, Kosta Koufos
So much talent on that Minnesota bench, but it is so inconsistent and so poor defensively. Webster has just returned recently and is putting up over 14 PPG off the bench, while Brewer, Ellington, and Flynn have all had their struggles this year but can go off at any time if give a chance.For the Hornets, both Jack and Thornton have been much better as of late and Jason Smith tends to do well against teams that don’t read their scouting reports, and looking at their defensive metrics, it doesn’t look like they do read them that often.
GROW SOME BALLS and win on the road. We scored 98 points against the leagues WORST defense and then also lost by 15. Pathetic road team.
Thornton didn't get to play long enough stretches tonight, he made a shot just at the top of the key and then Monty takes him out? Wtf someone answer that riddle?
Someone other than Cp3 needs to learn how to shoot a 3. They be WIDE open and miss, give me a break. Besides CP3, Dwest and Mek (and maybe J Smith) tonight the rest of them should be made to walk all the way back to New Orleans
Lakers haven't been championship caliber, so there is hope there. Also Lakers always have a hard time defending PGs. Well we have the best. Boston i predict, will be a loss. so we've had 3 recent games that just didn't go our way. We are not a great team. Great teams always find ways to win when the ball is not bouncing there way. But we are good. On the cusp of top 10 in the NBA IMO. we are top 15 i will boldly say that, but not yet top 10. I shall now play nba 2k11. Will get revenge for our Hornets. GEAUX HORNETS!
What upsets me the most is that Monty has so much faith in bellinelli and ariza, but the are so inconsistent and have no confindence, does anyone notice that 75% of their shots are a dribble after they have received a wide open shot?! Please tell me I'm not crazy
losing by 17 to one of the worst teams in the NBA is definitely a low point in the season add to that i'm sure we will lose to LA and boston in the next two. i hope this team is still around .500 by the all star break
we need a shooting guard that can give us anything. We need a scoring option at the 2. I have nothing personal against belinelli (like the guy, like his story etc) but its obvious y he was traded for nothing he gives us nothing and takes away a starting roster spot. I mean hes not even giving us the last few years of peja production. God we just need to be able to score
"we need a shooting guard that can give us anything. We need a scoring option at the 2." We need that desperately. See, this is what I'm talking about when I say sure, CP3 can give you double doubles all day long but it ain't gonna mean ish if no one else is doing anything outside of David West. The bench sucked all of be damned tonight too.
i think a lot of us hornets fans just need to come to the realization that the hornets aren't a very good team. they're supposed to be a good defensive team but i think that the defensive numbers are just a product of the slow pace they play. only dwest and cp3 are the only consistent players on this team everyone else for the most part is pretty mediocre or sucks. also i don't think monty is a very good coach either, he is more or less byron scott.
The realization part us right. We are better than last year, in the process of getting even better, but are not good. The rest of what you are saying has some merit, but I don't think this is peculiar to our team. Rather, that is the way it is for most teams in the NBA. Time will tell about Monty, but he is markedly different from Byron.
we are a great defensive team. the defensive numbers are pace adjusted, so our defense is great. Off course it didn't show up today, but its still good. Our offense on the other hand, is another story. We are atrocious offensively. as Ryan said, if we just approach league average in offensive efficiency, we will be 19 - 9. thats almost a 3 game difference. thats how bad our O has been. don't overreact to one loss. its just one of those nights where they hit everything they got. My God, Beasley was hitting "in your face" 3 pts. Beasley abused West on the dribble, got to admit that. but his 3 pts were well contested. same goes for Wes Jon. i can count 3~4 threes he took which were contested and still made them. don't overreact guys. I know this is bad, but we will get better. I'm sorry just an optimist.
With the Lakers coming in on Wednesday, one would think the Hornets would try to get this win but....... no.