The Hornets execute the Cavs after Paul leaves on stretcher

Published: March 6, 2011

With 4:35 to go in the third quarter, my stomach landed in my mouth as we returned from Commercial break to see Chris Paul being strapped onto a stretcher.  Minutes before, after having lost the ball on a foray through the paint, both Paul and Ramon Sessions went after the loose ball, and Paul caught Sessions shoulder – and the weight of his 190 lbs - directly in the face.  He collapsed, and the Hornets had to call time to prevent a three second violation.

It was pretty unsettling to watch him get carted out, but at least we can all breathe a sigh of relief after CJ Paul’s(CP3’s brother and business manager) tweet following the game:

Thanks for everyones concerns. @Oneandonlycp3 is ok. He wanted to get off the stretcher and play but they wanted to make sure he was ok.

Phew.  He did take a shot to the head.  Sports leagues have started being very careful about potential head and neck injuries.  I applaud that.

Now we can move onto a game that for two quarters was a lot closer than it had reason to be.  The Cavaliers two big men, Hickson and Samuels, were drilling jumpshots from 20 feet, and Baron Davis was actually setting his feet before letting fly from three.  Those guys combined to keep the Hornets from breaking the game open.  In the second half, however, the Hornets just kept executing, and the Cavaliers did not, largely because Davis started dominating the ball and the Cavs were no longer running the sets that put them in a position to succeed.  The final score was 96-81. (Box Score)

David West

West had been having a pretty solid game up until Chris Paul went down.  When Paul went down, however, he put on his big boy pants and spearheaded the Hornets attack.  He drilled two shots, forced an And-1, and found Willie on a break for an easy layup.  In the fourth, the Cavs kept overloading and doubling him, but he handled it cooly, found the open men, or split the defense for buckets in the lane.  It was a masterful offensive showing, and he ended with 23 points on 13 shots.

The Three Amigos

The bench trio of Jack, Landry and Green once again outdid their opponents, with Jack coming in for Paul and running a calm, calculating attack balanced with forays into the paint for mid-range pull-ups.  Landry wasn’t as impactful as he had been, but they actually double-teamed him in the post twice.  When was the last time we had a bench post player that teams even considered sending a double team on?  I can’t say enough about Jack’s offense tonight, though.  He looked great, and Green’s defense on Baron Davis triggered a bunch of turnovers.

Other Observations:

  • For about a quarter, I thought JJ Hickson was going to make me eat my words about having low Basketball IQ.  He was playing a calm game, hitting open shots, picking out open perimeter players for nifty passes, and generally playing well.  Then came the third when he continuously was out of position trying to defend West, had some stupid fouls, and then, inexplicably started thinking he could post, dribble away from the basket and hit fadeaways.  If he did it once, no big deal, but he tried to shoot off the dribble 5 times in the same quarter – without even coming close on his shots.  I wish the camera had shifted to Byron so we could have seen his head explode.
  • Okafor had his usual unimpressive line – but his defense on the pick and roll was excellent.  He also had some sweet blocks.  I wish I could post video of the block he had on Hickson in the first, but my broadcast was badly pixelated.
  • Semih Erden was awful.  He KILLED the cavs.   He committed stupid fouls, was out of position all the time,  and David West and Emeka Okafor abused him.  It was ugly.  He also had the creepiest moment of the game, when they showed him during the Pre-game because he was coming back from injury, and he was doing something in his shorts, staring down the baseline, and licking his lips.  Ew?  I guess I’m glad I’m not on TV a lot though.  I’m sure I’d be caught with my finger up my nose or something.  Not that I pick my nose or anything . . .
  • Aaron Gray was painful tonight.  So was Quincy, who blew all his open shots.  He’ s got to learn to knock those down.  At least Pondexter had a nice block, though.
  • That Samardo Samuels kid has a future in the league.  Strong, pretty quick on his feet, and if his mid-range jumper wasn’t a fluke, multi-faceted.  I loved his defense on West in the first half, and couldn’t understand why Scott didn’t send him out there to take West again in the second.
  • Can’t forget Belinelli.  He did his best Rip Hamilton impression all night, cutting, running, and drilling jumpers from everywhere.  He even mixed it up for a few rebounds.  A nice solid night.

End of the roadtrip tomorrow in Chicago.  As soon as we know when Paul will see the court again, we’ll be sure to pass it on!  Have a good night!


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