Shorthanded Hornets fall to red hot Bulls

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Published: March 7, 2011

Conventional wisdom said that this game would be a blowout. The Bulls came in as one of the hottest teams in the league, winners of 16 of their last 17 at home and fresh off a huge victory at Miami. Meanwhile, the Hornets came into tonight down two starters, one of which just happened to be the heart and soul of the team, Chris Paul. The Hornets, however, put up a fight for 48 minutes before falling to the Bulls 85-77, in a game that was even closer than the final score indicated.

The Hornets kept the game tight with a swarming defense that had Chicago guessing all night long. At times they played man, other times it was zone, and then they would throw Chicago off by showing them a hybrid of the two. As a result, the Bulls shot just 38% from the field and only 4 of 20 from three. Derrick Rose did score 24 points, but it took him 21 shots to do so, and the small forward duo of Kyle Korver and Luol Deng were virtually nonexistent, going 4-20 from the field (1-9 from three).

Unfortunately for the Hornets, the Chicago defense was impressive as well and the difference was that New Orleans simply couldn’t execute down the stretch, as Chicago finished the game on an 8-0 run. Marco Belinelli led the Hornets in scoring in the first half, and finished the game with 17, but he missed an open three-pointer with 2:34 left that could have given the Hornets the lead. The next few possessions were head scratchers, as David West tee’d up a corner three that caught nothing but air, which was followed by his attempt to ally-oop a pass to Okafor (which led to a turnover) and then some isolation plays run for Willie Green.

This was where the Hornets missed CP3 the most, as Chicago had someone to go to in the key stretch, while the Hornets simply did not. With Chris Paul out, David West is by far and away the go to guy for this team, but tonight was just not his night, as he went 4-17 against the longer and more athletic Joakim Noah. It is what it is- this is a bad matchup for the Hornets when they are healthy, and it is that much worse when they are without their superstar. Regardless of the result, however, you simply have to applaud these guys effort. Sometimes you are more proud of a team after a defeat than you are after a victory, and I know that a game like this makes me feel more optimistic about the Hornets chances in the playoffs than a win over some bottom feeder would.

Other Notes and Observations:

- I asked fans via Twitter what Jack would have to do tonight in order for the Hornets to walk out with a victory. Darius Beard told me he would need 20 and 10. I told Darius that I think the 20 is possible, but I don’t see the 10, and that rang true tonight. Jack can score the basketball, and when he is playing the 2 or PG in short stretches, that is fine. If he is your starter, however, you better have another playmaker or you will see what you saw tonight. Jack: 43 minutes, 5 turnovers, 3 assists. Hornets as a TEAM had 10 assists, which is right at CP3′s individual average.

- I know people will be mad at the fact that Willie Green took 13 shots, but as sad as it is to say, he and Jack were the only ones out there who could create their own offense against this Bulls team. Q-Pon had one nice drive early and Marco did well spotting up and coming off screens, but he couldn’t create for himself. And as for David West…..

- The rumors are that David West might be interested in going to New Jersey, but if he were smart he would stay out West where he would only have to see Noah twice a year. That guy is a matchup nightmare for D. West. I thought a healthy Kenyon Martin gave West fits, but Noah does everything Martin did plus he is much longer. West got him twice on an up and under, but other than that Noah simply shut him down and forced him further away from the bucket on every possession. West finished 4 of 17 for just 11 points in a building that he has struggled in his whole career.

- Marco Belinelli had 9 rebounds. Not much to say other than… Marco Belinelli had 9 rebounds.

- Okafor and West combined for 9 blocks. Unfortunately most of those blocks ended up back in the hands of the Bulls or went out of bounds. I believe there should be a separate category for blocks, because what does it matter if the team just gets the ball back? It would be like counting deflections. No, you just count steals because the ball changes possession. A deflection that goes out of bounds is one thing, but a steal that leads to a fast break opportunity is another. Same should hold true for blocks. Tied at 77, the Hornets got a big block on D Rose, but it fell right into Noah’s arms and he got a bucket plus the foul. How is this a positive play for the Hornets? Just my progressive stat rant.

- Can we call Quincy Pondexter- Keiser Soze? He works with a crew of guys, people say that he is out there, yet there seems to be no real tangible proof that he exists. The guy comes in game after game and seems to have the sole mission of making the stat guys’ job as easy as possible. No blocks, no steals, no turnovers. Gets 3 standard defensive rebounds, an assist and two points. Perhaps the greatest trick Q-Pon ever played was convincing the opposing team that he didn’t exist.

- Not bitter at all about the loss, just speaking objectively, but I would be shocked if the Bulls got out of the second round. I know they are the hot team to pick right now and everyone is falling in love, but that team is too easy to defend and good teams will get Noah in foul trouble. They play hard night in and night out, but come playoff time, so does everybody, and that is when talent factors into the equation. The Bulls get the most out of their talent, and that is a compliment, but I would bet heavy against them moving on past the Elite Eight.

- Hornets return home on Wednesday and then have three days off before welcoming Marcus back on Sunday.

28 comments
Westbank Ripp
Westbank Ripp

James Online said it perfectly. That's what many fans that don't see through Rose Colored Glasses see. We get frustrated when the coach punishes one player (MT23) for no defense, shoot first mentality, yet rewards another for the exact same thing. Jack is not a PG, just a short gunner that has as many turnovers as assist. Marco is playing much better with increased run and Willie has been steady too. Carl landry has been a good addition, but Sacramento got the better of that trade.

Just A Fan
Just A Fan

I have a job which requires me to work nights, so I can't always comment. And for the record I have been a season ticket holder in the Lowe bowl for 4 seasons. My observations are made from my own perspective. I feel as a paying customer that I should be able to express my feelings. No person on this site is required to agree with me but I shouldn't be censored either.

Just A Fan
Just A Fan

As I have stated before "Monty is an assistant coach making head coach money." Play calling and player rotation is horrible and there is NO excuse for it this late into the season. We will stay a mid-level team as ling as he is in charge.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

HAHA and you comment only when we lost? UGH im through reasoning out with you.

42
42

You noticed we have a few of those? Just A Fan was participating during and after our recent Memphis chat. He has some things to say. I wish he would say more, actually, so that the content of his words is not lost in the perceived timing of them.

James Online
James Online

Credit to the team as a whole for fighting the whole game against a Chicago team that didn't play its A game offensively. But let's be clear: we saw in this game why Jarret Jack should NOT be considered a backup PG. He's an undersized 2 guard who's been forced to play the point because he isn't a good shooter from distance and can't defend taller or more athletic players. He's gutty and has no conscience (19 shots, most not dropping) and only passes when he can't get his own shot. Doesn't see floor. Doesn't want to see the floor. The low number of assists overall and low scoring resulted from the fact that the ball did not move on offense at all for the Hornets. The offense was poorly initiated because of bad decisions by JJ. West 4 for 17? That's because he rarely got the ball in position to score and was forced to make things up too much. The corner three was symptomatic of that. As I predicted, Jack never looked for anyone, especially not Marco. The only pass to advantage to Belli (an assist in this case) was a fling from the baseline for a three. Jack saw this game as his chance to score big and solidify his place on the team. 19 shots. 11 misses. 5 tunrovers. Marco and Landry were the only players to shoot 50%. Tough defense, yes, but offense run by a "shoot first" PG. With Marco logging more than 40 minutes the last two games, we've seen what kind of player he can be when given the chance to stay on the floor. His confidence and performance have increased to the point where Monty is now relying on him in the same way he depends on his other regulars. If he plays 30 minutes plus for the rest of the season, that level of play will continue. If he gets yanked after missing a shot or getting beat once on defense, the output will decline.

paul
paul

One last thought on Monty ball... This the 4th failure, I think, in just oveabout 2 weeks that Monty's small ball has failed. When does it get called stupid when somebody does something over and over regardless of it's failure? I understand his thoughts...Bulls have athletic fronts. But they still will have to adjust to Gray and you need the rebounding. 3 minutes?

JS
JS

I hate King so much...Hes such a clown This is going to sound really negative but: This game was inevitable we were going to lose. Based on the fact that we didn't have CP in the 4th quarter. He hasnt been as great this year with his own game but atleast he gives people the ball where they need it as opposed to Jack who kinda just worries about himself. Jack is a huge downgrade at starting point especially in crunch time

Hornets fan from KC
Hornets fan from KC

The Hornets need a TV contract. It is painful watching the other teams telecast night after night. Stacy King really needs to do some homework on the opponent before he does a game. Here is just a sample of his highlights. "The Hornets are struggling because David West is having a poor year". "The Hornets are much more of a fast break team with Chris Paul". " Marco Belineli looks like Sylvester Stalone". King was making me wish for Sean Elliot. Elliot still thinks the Spurs have only comitted a dozen fouls all year. Great effort on defense wish we could have stole that game. If we can't make it to the five seed I would rather be seven or eight. Lakers will destroy us.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

How about when King said that Okafor has been plagued with injury throughout his career? Didn't he just have a 400 game consecutive played streak prior to this recent injury? What a joke. I can't wait until the NBA gives its audience the choice of who they want to listen to. 90% of these guys are clowns.

Justinho
Justinho

Agreed. I never really realized how atrocious most of the local announcing teams were until I subscribed to League Pass a couple of years ago. It's understandable that it's nearly impossible to know everything about every other team when your primary responsibility is to have complete knowledge of *your* team, but some simple research is a must. Especially for stuff like the "more of a fastbreak team with Chris Paul". I've heard that like 5 times this year. This after we've been bottom 5 in the league in terms of possessions per 48 minutes for several years running.

champsworld504
champsworld504

after 2nite, new jersey can have d. west. the nets owner will give him max money that he definitely does NOT deserve. does he deserve a raise? absolutely, but i'll be damned if he deserves superstar money. he doesn't hustle at all and he's a lazy defender (well then again, amare is lazy on d and doesn't hustle at all). Q-pon needs to play w/ confidence out there. and dear lord, please bless us w/ some athletes next season. we are so f***in slow out there it's painful to watch. keep marco and green, get a speed pg and another athletic wing man and we'll be fine. GO HORNETS!

f.g. di bene
f.g. di bene

I don't think marco can't create his own shot, in the last matches he proved that he's capable of that. he just did not see the ball very often in the late minutes

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

Okafor can't get his offense goind if nobody gets him the ball. The real story was West missing a TON of shots he normally makes, and about 5 close calls that all went the Bulls' way. Not bad refereeing, just bad luck and bad jump-ball performance. Landry is West lite, and lite wasn't cutting it yesterday. He is shorter and less crafty than West, and will struggle against the same types of long bothersome players that West has trouble with. West was open for a number of jumpers tonight, but since he couldn't make but one, he failed. Jack loses his composure way too often. Or, perhaps we are spoiled with CP3. Credit Q-pon with some good defense (as well as some bad). He got a few steals and deflections that helped get stops.

paul
paul

Ya, Okafor needed to do more when driving Boozer on him. He should have done the exact think Noah was doing to West...play hard and all over him since the refs were allowing it. Noah was indeed getting away with a whole lotta touching, you might say. But please...here is what killed us. JJack became StreetJack. Really couldn't find the right player..so he took his shots. West played like a cry babay all night. All huffy thet Noah was bugging him. Walking down the floor, just generally taking it easy. Coach...DNP Coached decision...after half the damn team players names in the stats! You want rebounds? Then when Noah sits, put Gray in! Grat got 3 minutes. OK. Look...you want Gray? Then play him and get him part of the the floor plan. You don't? Then trade him and get somebody you like and trust. But if that's the look of out short bench playoff team...look the hell out! We are most certsinly 1 and out. They are going to play a lot tougher and you better get some tools.

Sav
Sav

"but I would bet heavy against them moving on past the Elite Eight." If Chicago gets the #2 seed, they would be assured of missing both Miami and Boston until the Conference Finals. Under that scenario, who is going to beat them in the second round? Orlando? Atlanta?

JCS
JCS

I didn't understand that comment either. Bulls and Celtics are heading to the ECF no problem IMO.

sportnlife
sportnlife

Williams played Landry, West, and Okafor on the front line a couple of series in the 4th, before going back to the 3-guard line-up. It might not be the best situation for Landry, though, having to chase 3s around all game. It seemed to be a scheme to keep Rose from making those spirit-crushing + 1 layups. We'll see if Monty goes back to it in the future. As for Landry, he was completely wasted this game because Jack is clueless about where his teammates are on the floor, and where they want to be. D West threw up some crazy shots in desperation because Jack wasn't looking for him in his comfort zones. Landry also. He just took to flinging up 20-footers with no rhythm, just out of desperation that the ball somehow found its way over to him. As well as Jack did offensively, and he wasn't bad on the defensive end, either, doing a better job staying put in the lane to take away Rose's angles to the basket, he took a lot of Hornets points off the board through his inability to run the base offense. Green's bad night was a problem, but Okafor's offensive limitations were to me the real story. The Bulls got away with playing Boozer on him, which freed up Noah to harass West. Okafor has just got to make those bunnies count. A guy his size has to put up more points at the rim, or put more fouls on the opposing center.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

I did not get to watch the second half of the game tonight but what it sounds like is that the offense sputtered at the end of the game again.... i honestly think we need to hire an assistant with a great offensive mind to draw up some good offensive sets for us at the end of the game because it always seems like monty draw a dot at the top of the key being chris paul and then 4 dots outside of the arch and says go for it or one dot on one side of key and 4 on the other and says david go for it.... we need a coach who we know can draw up a good play for us to get good offensive possessions towards the end of games

QueenBee
QueenBee

Will Mark Cuban and Phil Jackson be mad if the Hornets sign another player? :?

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

I really wish we could have done Q-Pon + 2nd rounder for Landry. I quite frankly do not see the uber-promise that 42 does in the kid.

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

On that note, I'd consider starting Carl Landry at the 3 over playing Pondexter for 20+ minutes one more time this season.

42
42

I don't see that either. I agree with what the guys said on the podcast. He's smart, he doesn't screw up, he still needs to develop. Let me know if you see something else I said other than some excitement when he does well. Additionally, when I did the podcast I was want them to upgrade the back 3 by the trade deadline. That means I wanted and upgrade over Q. I don't expect anyone to quote me, remember what I say, or agree with me, but at least run down opinions I have.

Kevin
Kevin

I don't do moral victories. If you hold Rose and Deng to a combined 34 points on 30% shooting, you need to win the game. What in the world possessed West to take that three/throw that lob? Good lord.

42
42

We would have yodeled publicly to get effort and intensity from this team a few games ago.

Mark
Mark

If we can play inspired every game, I would be happy.