Hornets defeat Washington for second straight road victory

Published: January 1, 2011

Chris Paul follows Hornets247 on his twitter account and I am convinced he forwarded today’s Game On write up to Trevor Ariza. How else can you explain Ariza’s breakout performance? The guys has been simply horrendous this month, but he was the difference tonight, finishing with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals in the Hornets 92-81 victory at the Verizon Center.

It wasn’t only the points that he scored, but the way that he got them that was so impressive tonight. He forced turnovers that led to breakaway layups, he hit jumpers (both open and contested), and he drove to the basket in the half court when Washington ran out at home. Those drives led to three layups and one dunk that sent the Hornets bench into a frenzy, as he took off from 8 feet out and dunked right on the head of shot blocker extrodanaire Javale McGee.

For the Hornets, six players scored in double figures, including all five starters. Ariza led the team, but Okafor chipped in with 17 points on only eight shots and Jarrett Jack gave the Hornets 12 off the bench. Chris Paul, meanwhile, focused on setting up his teammates on the offensive end and making John Wall’s life a living hell on the defensive end. Paul had seven steals, and he and Ariza were largely responsible for the rookie’s game high eight turnovers.

Washington got solid efforts from Nick Young (24 points) and Javale McGee (12,13, and 6 blocks) but got practically nothing from their undermanned bench. The Wizards reserves went 4-14 and scored just 11 points total, as they obviously missed veterans Kirk Hinrich and Josh Howard on the second unit. Hinrich specifically could have proven incredibly useful early on, as John Wall picked up his second foul just two minutes into the game and was forced to go to the bench for the remainder of the quarter.

Other Notes and Observations:

– The Hornets bench was pathetic again in the first half as they helped turn a three point New Orleans lead into a 13 point deficit. Luckily CP3 and the other starters came back in and got it down to a manageable five point deficit at halftime. In the second half Monty kept West and Ariza in with the second unit rather than just subbing all five guys. The Hornets had much more success with that group, as CP3 left with the game tied at 62 and returned with an 8 point lead.

– Guys on IR in the NBA are the equivalent of backup quarterbacks. When the team is losing, those guys are always the fans’ answer to all the problems. Aaron Gray, Marcus Thornton, Pops Mensah-Bonsu. I have read the comments for weeks and people swear the Hornets are losing because, in large part, these guys aren’t getting the playing time they deserve. I will say it again; our bench has coaches with nearly 40 years of NBA experience and none of us get to see what goes on in practice. If these guys were that good, they would be playing. The answer to the Hornets woes are not named Thornton, Pops, or Gray.

– Want to know the real reason Gray was playing tonight? The Hornets have until Wednesday to decide whether or not they want to guarantee Pops and Mbenga for the rest of the year. If they decline, and go with a guy like Gray instead, they can pick up another 2 million or so in a trade without going over the lux tax. The Hornets are a little more than 3.5 mil under the tax now, so if they pick up a 5 million dollar guy (for example) using a TPE, it will actually cost them about 10 million dollars once you factor in the rebate check and everything. Long story short, every penny counts and if the Hornets don’t think there is a huge difference between Mbenga and Gray, Mbenga is gone for that reason.

– With all that said, Aaron Gray looked awful tonight and while I expect Pops gone, I hope the Hornets keep Mbenga for 1.1 mil. Things could be worse, however. All joking aside, I honestly think that Hilton Armstrong is the worst player in the NBA who actually gets minutes. The worst.

– John Wall will be a stud in 2 years, but he isn’t ready to go up against the elite point guards just yet. The Wizards announcers were making a comparison between Wall’s rookie year and CP3’s rookie year and showed that they had similar stats. There is one exception, however- CP3 was leading his team to wins and had inferior talent.

– I would give up anyone outside of West or CP3 to get McGee. Yes I love how Okafor is playing, but McGee would be straight nasty with CP3. Give him this year to understand the system and by next year he could be exceeding what Tyson did while he was here.

– Awesome job with the captions guys- I was dying laughing. Answer to the pop quiz: Milwaukee, Charlotte, Cleveland, and New Jersey- which means that the Hornets are the lowest scoring team out West. Good thing for that new and improved D and the new emphasis on rebounding.

– Hornets have two winnable home games (Philly and GS) before a rematch with the Lakers at the Staples Center. Let’s get out and support them!


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