Hornets can’t hold onto lead, as Blazers surge to victory
After a difficult two and a half weeks, Monty Williams seemed willing to do whatever it would take for the Hornets to head into the All-Star break with a little momentum. Four of his starters got 40+ minutes and reserve guard Jarrett Jack got 31, as Williams shortened his rotation, knowing that his team had six days off to rest. The Blazers, however, utilized a similar strategy and were able to come out victorious.(box) The reason? Surprisingly, it was because they won the point guard battle.
David West and LaMarcus Aldridge each had fantastic games, going off for 27 and 34 respectively. The two teams matched each other at the two guard position, as Willie Green and Wesley Matthews each poured in 24. At center, neither team really got much from their starters, as Jason Smith scored 4 points and Dante Cunningham had only three. Each team only had one significant contributor on the bench (Jack for the Hornets, Rudy F. for Portland), and Ariza v. Batum came out to a relative draw.
The difference in the game was that Portland got an efficient game from Andre Miller, who scored 18 points while producing 7 assists to just 2 turnovers. CP3 on the other hand, scored just 8 points and barely produced more assists than turnovers (5 to 4). It was just an odd game for him, as he never took a shot in the paint, missed two free throws, and just didn’t seem to have a feel for the game, especially late.
Portland’s defense isn’t exactly Lockdown Central, either, as evidenced by the fact that Jarrett jack got 5 shots in the paint and Willie Green had seven. There was a time when Paul would have sliced and diced a team like this up, but that time wasn’t tonight. I know Hornets fans are holding on to hope that Emeka will come back and save the Hornets from this losing streak, but I don’t see how having Emeka automatically gets CP3 his game back. And when it comes down to it, this team will go as CP3 goes, and tonight CP3 did not show the ability to get into the lane.
Other News and Notes:
– 6 minutes, 1 shot tonight from Marco Belinelli. Looks like Willie Green has got the starting two guard position on lock, and it would hard to envision a scenario in which Marco gets it back. That being said, the Hornets were horrible from behind the arc tonight against a team that can give up three’s in bunches, so if Belly is traded, hopefully it will be for a three-point gunner.
– Or maybe MT5 can assume that role, although he did not tonight- going 2-6 in just 12 minutes (1-2 from three). Aggressive as ever on the boards, but he also picked up some unnecessary fouls due to a combination of aggressiveness and being out of position. It will be interesting to see who will be the two guard spark off the bench at the end of this year. Will it be Marco, Thornton, or someone Dell brings in?
– Portland found ways to get Aldridge the ball late, and the Hornets did not do the same for West. You would like to have seen if David could have matched Aldridge shot for shot, but we didn’t get that opportunity.
– Jack was solid offensively but he seemed lost all too often on the defensive end. The guy is very limited as to the type of players he can match up with on the defensive end. He lacks the lateral quickness to stay with most PG’s, and most SG’s can simply shoot over him.
– With the win, Portland moves ahead of the Hornets into 5th out West. New Orleans is 6th, 1/2 game ahead of Denver and 1 1/2 games ahead of Memphis and Utah. Phoenix is only 1 game behind in the loss column. Not much room for error for the Hornets, who seem destined to be fighting for a 5-8 seed in the second half of the year. The 5 or 6 seed means OKC or Dallas, the 7 or 8 seed means San Antonio or Los Angeles.
– Hornets do not play again until next Wednesday, at home against the Clippers. COnsider Okafor probable for that game. The following day is the trading deadline.
Marco's game centers on worrying about making sure he doesn't interfere with the offensive scheme Monty has drawn up (Paul, West on set plays, Ariza to freelance). Thornton's game centers on ignorning it. For the entire season, Marco would be the first to be pulled in the first quarter, regardless of how he was playing. He's the Bee's leading score against Golden State (to our delight out here), then gets six minutes and one shot last night. He closed out on those three's that were made. Had they not been made, no one would have complained. Anybody have W-L stats on games Marco starts and doesn't start? I hope Dell will do the decent thing and move him before the deadline.
I don't know what the deal with Chris is, but Jarret Jack was quicker off the ball than him last night. I watched them both very closely, and Jarret repeatedly blew by his man and made it to the rack. Chris could never shake his defender. I'm not saying Jarret was the better point guard, just saying he was quicker last night. It's odd because Chris could always create a shot whenever he wanted to. Lately that just isn't happening. I'm not sure what the deal is, because there is no evidence of pain. No grimaces, no limps. I see frustration, though, so maybe he's just in a slump. Or biding his time? Or just taking it easy trying to avoid injury? Who knows? Whatever the reason, it sucks.
I don't know why Jack played so much in the 4th quarter. Too many errors on defense, I can't believe Monty stuck with him so long. That's frustrating.
Regardless of who Dell brings in, there's no flow with this offense. While it's nice to see Marcus or David have a hot shooting hand, does Monty have any set plays? Chris and David are options 1 and 2, sure, but if there's nothing there then it's everyone else to create for themselves lately. I see alot of passing, but where's the teamwork that sets up a backdoor cut or even an alley-oop? The other thing, does Monty ever believe in allowing his SG minutes to develop a shooting rhythm? I'm not defending Marco because his defense doesn't justify it right now, but I see the same thing with Marcus too. I just wish Monty would spend as much time planning offense as he does with defense, just my .02.
I'm glad a lot of people see this. But this has been going on earlier this season also. I would see he'd have 8 sometimes but I thought maybe his shot was off. Sometimes he would be taking 4 or 5 shots. I really think he's giving up. His play is symbolic of his want for a trade. A trade to another team. I don't think it's so much him quitting as him trying not to do too much on that knee. Maybe after the All-Star break or when he takes that sling off his knee he'll be back to the MVP caliber CP3.
Like so many of late this loss was rough, I really thought they were going to pull it out until that put back dunk by Aldridge. That got the crowd going and from there the energy was all Blazers. Without sounding like beating a dead horse, Paul's just not right out there, if it's injury related hopefully he takes it easy and gets some rest in during the break. The fact that he showed up extra early to shoot around yesterday though makes me wonder if it's partially a mental block that he's trying to get past. A week off couldn't have come at a better time, here's to hoping they come out of the break strong and give the Clippers some payback!
I didn't see the game last night, but, I have also been wondering if what we are getting from CP3 is a combination of being injured and him pulling back. It has become clear that our defensive struggles are being caused by the same problem as last year. Our guards are getting beat on the perimeter and our interior defense is getting exploited or the extra pass and slow rotations are generating open jump shots. I don't believe Emeka's return will be the silver bullet. This has been a very confounding year. The great start followed by the slump (at which point I really believed that was who we were). Then, the 10 game winning streak followed by this latest slide. I want to believe that we are that team that won 10 in a row, but, I just can't look past the fact that we have lost way too many games to the likes of Sacramento, Golden State, Minnesota, etc. I also believe that our biggest need is a 2/3 who can score from outside. We need someone who can spread the floor and give this team 12 -18 on a nightly basis. Our depth at the 4/5 isn't great, but, I think with a healthy Mek we can get servicable play from the Gray/Smith/Mbenga grab bag.
42 has said it ive said it. a big man would be great but we desperately need a player who can take the ball and simply go score. Our offense relys entirely too much on Chris Paul and his ability to get people open. Willie greens ability to move in around the interior and drop mid range jumper has been refreshing of late but its not enough.
So whats the status of Ariza's ankle? he looked like it was bothering him bad late in the fourth, he was hoppin on one foot for his dunk.
It was painful to watch CP3 in the fourth quarter last night. Correct me if I'm wrong but 3 of his 4 turnovers came in the 4th quarter. Two were back to back about halfway through the frame when it was a 3 and 1 point game respectively. This is NOT the CP3 we have come to know and love, and he needs to get his head on straight during the break, because if he continues to look like he did last night we may be fighting just to get the 8th spot out west.
I don't believe for a second that Paul is pulling a LeBron. I think we need to just accept that his knee is in terrible shape. Oh, and if you think the All-Star game will be telling, you've not seen any All-Star games. There is no defense played. None. Any guard with a modicum of passing and speed would look good there.
I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO looking forward to Mek getting back. CP3 looks so depressed out there, Portland's commentators said he was out there 2 hours before anyone else working on his shot. So I don't think he's giving up, he's just "messed up" mentally, he has no confidence what so ever. He passed WIDE open shots over and over again. I must say, Willie plays alot of a heck better as a starter. Out of how disappointing this game was, atleast they got alot of offensive rebounds, showing some (not much) signs of life.
Hornets played like they wanted that game last night. That one had to hurt afterwards in the locker room. I saw some positives last night. For most of the team, the body language was positive. For most of this month, the team looks like they are expecting something bad to happen. I didn't see that last night. The intesity is there; they just need to get their confidence back. This all-star break couldn't come at a better time. Before the Washington game, I said that, if this team could go 4-5, I'd be happy. Well the Hornets went 2-7, not too good.
CP3 got two hours earlier than anyone for the game, I don't know, this wasn't, REALLY wasn't his night, he ain't LeBron to quit, he ain't like that...
Is this just the Lebron situation again? Is Chris Paul just quiting? Wheres the killer mentality? I just don't understand. Maybe he figures he'll take it easy just to see how well we do when he's having off games. I honestly don't get it.