Paul, Hornets Falter Late in Loss to Rockets

Published: February 27, 2011

The Houston Rockets beat the Hornets 91-89 behind a stupidly efficient night by Kevin Martin (33 points on 15 shots), a not so efficient night from Chris Paul (6 points on 2-12 shooting), and an over-reliance on Willie Green in the fourth quarter. If those three things never come together during one game again, it will still be too soon for me.

Tonight’s game, following Mardi Gras parades earlier in the day, was supposed to be another reason for New Orleanians to celebrate. For much of the affair, it was. The Bees, who held a double digit lead for most of the game, entered the fourth quarter up 10. After a few minutes of decent basketball from a CP3-West-Landry-Jack-Belli, Paul took a breather. From 8:56 left in the fourth quarter (seconds before Paul went to the pine) up until the game was effectively over (.1 second left), the Hornets scored only 8 points.

At the time it was really depressing, especially considering that it appeared they were on the verge of pulling away for their third straight win throughout much of the first 39 minutes. Despite that, I get the feeling looking back that we shouldn’t stress this game too much.

A lot of stuff just went the Rockets way.

Lowry was draining deep threes that he had no business making, Kevin Martin was having one of the unstoppable nights that he has on occasion, there were at least three shots that went in that can only be described as lucky, Landry was remarkably out of position a couple of times on defense (which presumably won’t happen once he gets used to the guys), the Rockets grabbed 35% of available offensive rebounds, and Chris Paul wasn’t acting like Chris Paul late in the game.

Chris Paul

While he had an off night shooting and got no love from the refs, Paul still managed to put a pretty nice stat line together for a bad night. He had 6 points on 12 shots (only 2 trips to the line), 12 assists, zero turnovers, and three steals. Defensively he allowed Lowry to have an 18 point night, but it’s generally it’s a good thing when your opponent is taking shots from 25, 27, 28, and 29 feet out. That’s how far away Lowry was when he knocked down his four threes.

Most concerning was the continued apathy that Paul displays toward closing out games. It’s becoming clear that for the first time since he exploded onto the superstar scene in 2007-2008, Chris Paul is not acting like one.

So Chris, if you’re out there somewhere, I want you to think about something. Whether or not you are having a bad game, you’re still the best player on the team at every given moment on the floor. You’re the guy who can most easily get his own shot off during crunch time, the one most likely to get fouled while taking it, and the one most likely to make it. If the Hornets are down three points late in the fourth, you need to be the primary option on the play, not Willie Green. Not Trevor Ariza, either. Neither of those guys shoot even 32% from three over the course of their careers.

In the last seven minutes tonight you took one shot. The best player on the floor, by far I might add, took one single shot during crunch time of a home game with playoff implications. Willie Green took six.

It seems that Monty and everyone else on the team is happy to just let you play this passive end game, and truly I get why they do that. Who are they to tell you what to do? You’re Chris Paul. You do what you want on the basketball court.

My only question to you, Chris, is why aren’t you doing that?

Game Notes

  • David West had quite a game, going for 22 points on 14 shots, 9 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals, a block, and only three turnovers. One of the best all around efforts I’ve seen from him in a long time, and his +15 in the stat sheet was well deserved. He held Scola to 6 points on 13 shots, and teamed with Okafor and Landry to not allow a single Houston big man to score in double digits. The trio allowed only 30 points in the paint all game.
  • Carl Landry had 13 points on 11 shots and three boards. I can dig that since he’s only going to get better. Defensively he had a few lapses, but not for lack of effort. Overall it’s just too clear that he’s the most underrated acquisition of the deadline. The hole he filled was so large, and he is such a strong player to begin with.
  • Okafor gathered 14 boards, but it just wasn’t enough. I get the feeling that he felt that way too. It could have easily been 17 or 18, but I guess that’s just how the ball bounces.
  • Marco Belinelli had 14 points 6-8 shooting and was undeniably red hot. It would have been nice to see him on the floor for more of the fourth quarter.
  • The Hornets fell to 1-11 when an opponent hits 10 or more 3-pointers
  • In the first three quarter the Rockets made only 14 field goals from inside the arc.
  • Jason Smith came out with his name spelled SMIHT on his Mardi Gras Jersey.
  • Hornets don’t play at home again until March 9th.


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