Hornets get Defensive, take care of Timberwolves

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Published: February 25, 2011

The Timberwolves came out red hot against the Hornets, drilling 6 of their first 7 shots, as they threatened to sweep the season series with the Bees. With the score 16-11, Monty Williams looked furious as he called a timeout and let the starters have it. The result? Only 10 more points in the final 8 minutes of the quarter, and totals of 17, 18, and 20 in the remaining three quarters as the Hornets went on to an impressive 95-81 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Some might laugh when they read that a victory over a 13-win team is impressive, but the Hornets had to overcome several potential pitfalls in this game. First and foremost, West was out due to a death in the family. Secondly, Carl Landry hadn’t gotten time to learn any offensive sets before he took the court, and lastly, Okafor was not in peak condition in his first game back from injury. Despite all of that, the Hornets simply took over the game on the defensive end, as they limited Minnesota’s trips to the line and their three point field goals.

As I noted coming into this game, the T’Wolves were averaging 25 free throws a game against the Hornets (making 22.5 of them) and they also averaged 11 made three’s per game. That is 55.5 points from those two areas. Tonight? 12-14 from the line and 5 made threes. 27 points. That is nearly a 30 point swing. Was Monty reading my game preview?

As for individual performances, let’s go to the Stars of the Game!

Star #3Wesley Johnson

I know they got blown out, but this guy just loves playing the Hornets at Minnesota. 22 points tonight, just two behind his career high of 24 against… that’s right, the Hornets! Guy has played 57 games, and his two best were against us. Of course.

Star #2- Chris Paul

8 assists and 1 turnover. Now that is more like it. No, Chris didn’t dazzle us with any Sportscenter top 10 plays or have an amazing stat line, but he controlled the game and led us to victory. 6 rebounds to go with his 17 points, and a lot of those rebounds were in the middle of some pretty big traffic down low. He would have easily had double digit assists if his bigs and Ariza actually dunked the ball when they got it from him at the rim. Overall, he lead the team in an efficient manner and he gets my 2nd star.

#1 Star- Emeka Okafor

First game back and I am giving you the big star- how does that feel? I am not exaggerating when I say this; without Emeka, the Wolves easily score 100+ tonight. Easily. Yes he had three blocks, but beyond that, he just changed so much about that game and he effected everything Minnesota wanted to do on that end of the court. 3 blocks and 2 steals, while only picking up 1 foul is quite impressive. To put it in perspective, there is only one guy in the league who averages more blocks than fouls per game, and Mek had a 3:1 ratio tonight.

He only played 25 minutes, but watch the game again and tell me that he didn’t dominate the lane.

Other Notes and Observations:

– Be prepared, it’s coming. There will be posters who did not watch the game, who will look at the box scores and say, “Landry was just 1-5 and Thornton scored 14 points, including 3 threes!” Ignore them. Those are the same people saying Bayless is better than Jack because he went off for 32 in Toronto one night. In nearly the same number of minutes, Thornton was -14 and Landry was +9.

But this isn’t about Thornton vs. Landry. Carl is on the team now and Marcus aint walking through that door, so this will be the last time I mention him in comparison to Landry. Carl Landry did so many little things that won’t show up in the box score, but they will make Monty smile when he watches the tape on the flight back tonight. Pushing Love around, aggressively attacking the ball handler on pick and rolls, and setting solid screens.

The guy doesn’t know sets yet and he will just be playing on raw instinct for the next week or so, but make no mistake, this guy is a huge upgrade.

– Q-Pon gave 18 really solid minutes. I would love if he could keep getting minutes before the rotation really gets tightened, and then he can be an everyday rotation guy next year.

– Gray was solid again. Missed one point blank layup and gave the Gray “What foul?” face, but other than that, solid.

– Willie Green fell in love with the three early because Minny came out in zone and ended up shooting 8 of them, hitting just 2. Best play of the game was a charge he took on a Minnesota fast break. He and Belly combined for 17 pints in 36 minutes at the two guard spot. I’ll take that.

– Jarret Jack had 13 points and 4 steals. Look at the elite point guards in the league and then look at their backups. Jack is a luxury for the Hornets and he has been judged too harshly. He is a top 5 backup PG, which means he is elite at his position. He gets condemned far too often for what he provides.

– Hornets will be at full strength for Sunday’s game against Houston at home, as West is expected back. After that they start their 5 game road trip.

– Caption winner: DAVEY with “Let’s have Jason Smith cover #22” . Laughed 4-5 times.

Question winner: Ronald, who correctly pointed out that the record breaking steal was against the Spurs.

29 comments
JCS
JCS

Excellent win. Welcome to the team Landry.

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

I also really liked what I saw from Landry. His boxing out was what impressed me the most last night, oddly enough. I also like that he can create his own shot 1v1. It will be a definite upgrade for us. I've said it before. There is a lot to be said for mental confidence in any sports venue. The fact that we have less of a logjam at the SG position has seemed to do wonders for Beli and Jack in the limited evaluation time we've seen. Monty needs to find his consistent rotation before the playoffs begin and let them go. We do not need to be mixing and matching lineups that rarely play together in the playoffs.

Ron
Ron

The bad news is that the T-wolves had 50% more rebounds than us.

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

I got a question...have we all given up on the nickname "moobs" or "the incredible bulk" for Aaron Gray? Cause I don't know if I can ever let that go no matter how much weight he loses!

42
42

"Moobs" is alive and well in my section.

bgalella
bgalella

Good to see Emeka Okafor come back and have the impact he did, solid three-man rotation with Okafor, David West and Carl Landry up front now .

Dontae
Dontae

Great win by the Hornets. I thought they would lose this game but they did good. Ariza was really shooting the ball tonight. What did he go from 3? Like 4-5? Glad to see our starting center back as well. We could get a 4th seed.

paul
paul

Gray was solid. Once again, here is where, as McNamara stated above about Landry's stats being meaningless, Grays stats show him high. But look at the details and they are nonexistent. Why? Again, it becaue these are stupid stats IF you do not watch and understand the game within the game. Gray makes his guards successful. He forms walls from which to find sanctuary behind. He blocks out defensive players better than NBA front line men...sometimes holding off 2 at a time...allowing his players space. Get over it, Gray nay sayers...he is truly SOLID and his teammates know it, even if many here do not.

NolaHog
NolaHog

So glad that we beat this team convincingly. Hopefully the Hornets can take care of business against Houston before embarking on their Mardi Gras road trip. What poor sucka is DWest going to have to dunk on this time?!

Geckoewan
Geckoewan

David West is a Xavier Hall of Famer!!!!

Gec's Doghouse
Gec's Doghouse

Buckets had -14. So what? My heart is still broken :(

OkiThor
OkiThor

Nice game by Mek. I almost forgot what it is like to have a presence in the middle on defense. Anyone else thinks Laundry is almost scary similar to Mek. The way they run? Mannerisms? The way the stand? At times I was thinking, "What? Two Meks on the court?!!" lol.

42
42

I think I'll call him . . . Mini Mek.

PeeDee
PeeDee

this really mad me laugh out loud

42
42

what has the word come to when lol means something is funny but you have to type out when something made you laugh out loud. when is the next deluge? I'll start pairing the animals. (It's not you PeeDee; it's the people that kept you from typing lol).

Stefan
Stefan

I would also like to say that the quality of the comments and journals on this site is wonderful. This is probably the only website where I don't feel myself getting stupider as I scroll down the comment section of a post. It warms my heart.

Stefan
Stefan

I agree with your assessment of Landry. I watched him very closely, and I absolutely loved what I saw. I know he's supposed to give us scoring off the bench, but the little defensive things he does are a great addition for this team.

Uptown sammy
Uptown sammy

Great game between nuggets vs. Blazers. danilo gallinari is fun to watch games is in ot

Go Blue
Go Blue

Great win! Nice to see Mek back, and I'll forgive his missed dunk. lol. I'm really looking forward to see what Carl plays like once he gets some practice in with the team. CP3 without a need brace makes me happy, he plays overall better and plus he's getting his shot back. These last 20 games or so, should really give the Hornets alot of confidence going into the playoffs. Sidenote: I really wish the Hornets hurry up and get a new owner. Cuban's and Phil Jackson's comments about the trade, are beyond annoying. And Phil Jackson even had the lack of sense to say "If New Orleans happens to win a championship does everyone get a trophy at the end?". I want the Hornets to get FULL credit for their success. Go Hornets!!

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

agreed. Cuban was just scared. I think the budget was for us to be under the lux tax if no GREAT trade comes up. and demps did just that. We are still under the tax line. He was just scared we could actually overtake his Dallas team. Phil Jackson normally plays mind games. At least he's recognizing the fact that we have a chance to win a championship(no matter how small). Landry is not the piece that will put us over the top, but he made us damn close. give me a starting SG and i'll bet my diploma we'll go deep into the playoffs next year.

cp3pdx
cp3pdx

I had to look up who the 1 blocks>fouls guy was... of course, the one player in the league I want to punch in the face every time his team plays

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

i'll predict 19 - 5 over our last 24 games. :)

Mark
Mark

Defensive players are those players who you don't really realize how important they are until they go MIA. Good looking Mek and Ariza, now just shoot less Ariza.

GregZ94
GregZ94

Hopefully we don't follow a big winning streak with another bad losing streak

Ben and Matt
Ben and Matt

I'm right there with you Joe P! I like us to make a run to a Game 7 Western Conference Finals and then...ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!

Joe P
Joe P

That's right NOLA! Stretch run time. Let's make some noise in the first round this year!