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Game On: Hornets @ Timberwolves (Live Chat)
What’s the saying, third time’s the charm? Yeah, I think that’s it. However I doubt that we ever would have imagined that it would apply here. The Hornets have faced the Timberwolves two times this year, and frankly, they were embarrassed both times. Two days after Christmas the Hornets went to Minnesota and lost by 15 to a team that was 7-24 at the time. And just two and a half weeks ago Minnesota came into New Orleans and drained 11 three’s en route to a 12 point victory that actually wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
The Hornets are out for blood in this game, as they are looking to start another long winning streak that will get them back into the race for home court advantage in the first round. Newly acquired forward Carl Landry will be in uniform, which will be huge if West can not play (death in the family). Emeka Okafor is hoping to play, however, and his return will be a welcome sight to Hornets fans as the defense has gone from elite to average with him out of the lineup.
The best news of all, however, might be the resurgence of Chris Paul. CP3 looked like his old self in the All-Star game last weekend and he carried that over to Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers. There was that extra bounce in his step, and he was definitely more aggressive than he had been in the previous month. The brace is off and CP3 seems ready to go. These next 23 games are the Olympic qualifying rounds. Players are getting refocused, rotations are being tightened, and coaches are as meticulous as ever. CP3 understands this and I have a feeling we will see the real CP3, not the fraud that took his place earlier this month.
Keys to Victory:
#1- Get Out on the Shooters
The Timberwolves drained 11 three-pointers in each of their wins against the Hornets this year, averaging 45% from behind the arc. On the season they average 7 made threes and shoot 37%. Huge difference. In game one it was Wesley Johnson, game two it was Anthony Tolliver. The wings are missing their rotations when the team collapses on Love and/or they are just choosing to pick their poison by leaving unproven players open. That has burned them in both games this season.
In the second game, the Hornets refocused their attention on the shooters and held the Wolves to just 44 points (they had 37 in the second quarter alone), but it was too little, too late. If New Orleans comes out with that defensive focus for the entire 48 minutes tonight, however, they can expect to finally beat these pesky T’Wolves.
#2- Backcourt Dominance
Chris Paul looks like he is back and Willie Green has been a beast since he took over the starting role. For those of you wondering why Demps didn’t make a move yesterday, just look at the play of Green since he entered the starting lineup. 17 PPG, shooting 54%, and perhaps most importantly, only 1 turnover per game despite the increased minutes. Additionally, Marco has looked much more comfortable as a gunner off the bench. He didn’t play much against Portland, but now the backup two guard is his and his alone and he responded with 12 points on 7 shots in just 16 minutes Wednesday night.
On the other end, the T’Wolves are forced to play rookie Wesley Johnson out of position since trading Corey Brewer. He will start at the two with Ridnour at the point and Sebastian Telfair/Wayne Ellington backing them up. This is the Hornets have to dominate, as Paul should be able to get into the paint at will and the Green/Belly duo should be able to get any shot they want against the inexperience SG duo.Â Add Jack into the mix and the Hornets guards should be able to create havoc against the worst defensive team in the NBA.
#3- Keep Kevin Love and Co. off the Free Throw Line
In the two games thus far, Minnesota is 45-50 from the free throw line against the Hornets. 22.5 points from the line, 33 points from behind the arc adds up to 55.5 PPG scored from these two areas. That can’t happen again if the Hornets expect to win. Like David West, Kevin Love is a power forward that you just can’t afford to send to the line. He hits 87% of his free throws and so far this season he is a perfect 19 of 19 against the Hornets.
This is where the addition of Carl Landry will be huge. The Hornets tried to play Jason Smith, DJ Mbenga, and David Anderson against Love for stretches in the last matchup and he simply embarrassed them. Landry should be able to hold his ground against Love and defend him without fouling. The Timberwolves half court offense is by no means a model of efficiency, so they need to rely on cheap points and free points in order to keep up with teams that score on their defense at will. That is why keeping them (and Love especially) off the line is imperative tonight.
Other News and Notes:
– The story has gotten out by now that the Hornets were involved in a potential three-team trade that would have seen them land Brandon Rush while sending out David Anderson. Count me amongst the people who could care either way about this deal. Personally I don’t think Rush would have cracked the rotation this year, especially in the playoffs. Next year he would have been good insurance in case Green and Belly both left, but I am sure the Hornets can lack a similar backup SG for less than the 3 million dollar figure that Rush has next season. And if they were looking to make him a backup SF, it would have just killed any chance of Q-Pon developing by next season.
– Timberwolves should have Anthony Randolph in uniform and I would expect him to get some minutes. Lucky for us, he will probably eat up Tolliver’s minutes- a guy who just killed us in the crucial second quarter last game.
– Love is going for an NBA record 45th double- double tonight. Reminds me of when CP3 got the steals record. Who was that against? My memory is saying Atlanta or Dallas, but it is foggy. Mad Hornets247 props to the first one to comment in with the correct answer. Added Bonus- who did he get the steal off of? I remember the play and I remember it leading to him trying to get a fast break going but pulling up when nobody was with him (typical). I can see the play in my mind, but I can’t remember the team. Grizzlies?? Man, I am getting old.
– This will be last meeting of the season. Hornets have not been swept by T’Wolves since 04-05 season.
– Vegas lists the Hornets as 6 point favorites. Hornets have failed to cover in 7 of last 9 verse Minnesota, but I think they will tonight. Defense steps up and Hornets win 101-90.
– We are working on setting up a live chat tonight after such an amazing turnout yesterday (over 1300 joined us over the 5 hours!!!) If people give showing up and participating at the level that they have recently, we will do them for every game. Not being a brown noser, but I seriously think Hornets fans are the most intelligent fans in basketball (at least the ones on our site). I was blown away by the quality of comments and questions yesterday.
– Last, but not least- Cap That Pic. I know it is a little odd but when I saw it, possibilities raced through my head. I wanna see what you got!
Minnesota may be the most unpredictable team in the NBA. Michael Beasley can blow up on any given night, or be terrible.
Caption: what will happen to Dan Gilbert if the miami Heat win a championship before the cleveland cavaliers....
I don't know why this came to mind, but did anyone else want a Jarret Jack jersey after that game in Houston? I sure did.
Man, I wish I could join you guys for the chat. I'm going to be with ol' girl for popcorn and a movie instead. Thank goodness for DVR...GEUX BEEZ!!!
Caption: "Here we see a Minnesota player in their typical defensive stance. Notice his lack of readiness and from his facial expression he obviously isnt interested in covering his man."
Least we can all go back to being hornet fans, not "wheres marcus?"fans. cuz hes in sacramento and we cant play him if we wanted to. And landry eases the pain. After landrys first jam you will forget all about that other guy, probably until march 12th
also about the rush trade--- how can u not think this would of been an absolute steal for us if it was just anderson included? rush is a talent. yes he is on and off but he has great range and athletic(ya the game winning dunk he had other night...nasty). he would of been a great depth addition and i am slightly dissapointed this didnt go threw. that would of been a great trade
rush isnt better than willie green, and hes only slightly better than marco belinelli. David Andersen is a good back up and a great mid range shooter, and hes not to shabby at the three either. id rather have andersen than rush. Plus having less shooting guards allows for the ones we have to mold better into their defined roles and gives enough minutes around. We have willie, belly, qpon and jack who all can and do play the 2 less qpon than the others but it will come. Im glad we didnt go further with the trade personally
Caption: "The best commercial Old Navy ever made...the one WITHOUT those annoying talking heads" "DJ Mbenga was out rebounded and out scored by number #22...tough match-up"
anyone hear anything on MEK? Is he missing another game tonight or will he return. I think his injury was much worse than anticipated!
He's expected to play. http://www.hornets247.com/news/2011/02/25/okafor-to-return-for-hornets/
I'm officially the Sigmond Freud of hornets posts, unable to condense a single thought into anything less than a novel. My apologies.
I may be sort of a strange bird in this aspect, but as much as I loved MT5, does anyone else feel a little more comfortable with our guards right now?? My thoughts are that without the egnimatic MT5, the roles of all of the guards are now much more clearly defined, which should give them all a clear understanding of what Monty wants from them and how many minutes they will get. Also, as much as I NEVER imagined I'd say it, I'm pretty comfortable with Willy starting at the 2. Granted, he's been shooting lights out from the floor since he took over (which may sway my opinion), but 2 things come to mind: 1.) In the starting rotation, he's not going to command anywhere near the ball dominance he had with the 2nd unit, which should make him more efficient. 2.) A lot of times when Belli was starting, he would disappear from the game for a while, not really doing anything. Willie's aggressive nature prevents this from happening, and even on a bad shooting night may improve our offensive efficiency due to his dual drive/shoot threat (assuming he does neither very often). Thoughts?
I love Marcus Thornton :nohomo: but I definitely agree that the guard position is more defined. Dell Demps knows this he is a lot smarter than we give him credit for.. Do you not think it pained him to lose the "Thorntons Thunder" banner at home games? I'm 1000% sure that demps knew that Carl Landry has a grandmother in Louisiana.. His name is well known 'round there too.. This guy is a freakin genious.. I love Thornton and as I said he's the only opponent that I will cheer for 3/12 lol.. Willie green is the "Green Hornet" literally the man is a veteran with energy and he is here to stay... Playoffs here we come Ps Marc Cuban can suck it.. :nohomo:
Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the Hornets being 6 point favorites (on the road without D-West and potentially Okafor against a team we haven't beaten this season) is a bit of a stretch?
Re: Green's beastdom, he has a long history of mediocrity. He's started in the past so I don't think playing at the opening tip has any magical powers for him. He's on a hot streak, and it's been nice, but I certainly hope that's not the reason Dell didn't upgrade at the 2 yesterday. CAPTION: Let's have Jason Smith cover #22.
Just to back up what has been said--it was against the Spurs, at home, in a (thrilling) win. I was also there, and remember being really impressed with the N.O. crowd--it was not a really obvious play (at least from my side of the court) but the crowd went wild immediately, without any kind of announcement. It was cool that people recognized what happened.
oh lol i thought sure it was dallas..the one where he put the ball between jason terry legs.....classic
Caption - After the fans cut of the head of a look-alike manaquine of Corey Brewer, Corey tweeted "Shieet I'm not that black" (Later he was sat down and explained that his head band was the main distractant on the replica)