Game On: Nuggets @ Hornets

By:
Published: March 14, 2011

A win on Saturday night moved the Hornets into sixth place out West; a win tonight will put New Orleans in a tie for 5th. Denver comes into the night one game ahead of the Hornets (2 up in the loss column), meaning that a win will create a virtual tie and it will also give the Hornets the season sweep of Denver, which gives the Hornets the higher seed if both finish with the same record.

Denver will be without two key pieces, as both Danilo Gallinari and Aaron Afflalo will be out, but Denver has been one of the hottest and most explosive teams in the NBA since the trade deadline. They are 7-2 without Melo and five of those wins have been by double digits, one of which was by 30 points and another that was by 40. This team can push the pace and can score in bunches, so it will be a contrast of styles to say the least.

When the Hornets have the ball:

David West had a nightmare game last week against Joakim Noah, who stiffled West in the paint and pushed him further and further out on the perimeter. Prior to Noah, only one guy had given West those kind of problems on a regular basis, and that guy is Kenyon Martin. Martin has the quickness to stay in front of West when he drives to the bucket, the strength to keep him from backing him down in the post, and the length to contest perimeter shots. Not many guys in the league can do all three, but Martin can when he is healthy.

In the Hornets previous two games against Denver, West did not have to contend with Martin, but tonight he will and it will likely prove to be the most important matchup of the game. If West can’t get going, then the Hornets will be forced to get the majority of their offense from their perimeter players, who have been streaky at best. Trevor Ariza is 2 for 18 since returning, Jack has been up and down, as has Willie Green. Marco Belinelli is a different story, however, as he has been exceptional since the All-Star break, averaging 13 PPG on nearly 53% shooting and 52% from deep.

We can speculate all day as to who might or might not have a good game, but the truth is that if CP3 truly is back, it might not matter who else shows up to join him. Although it was just one game against Sacramento, there is reason to believe that we have seen the return of our franchise player. If that is the case, then the offense will click simply because he is at the helm going against two below average defenders in Lawson and Felton.

When the Nuggets have the ball:

JR Smith had 31 points in his last game and he attributed his breakout game to the fact that he has stopped thinking so much on the court. Really? Does anybody believe that Smith was playing poorly because he was thinking too much? Well, that is what he will have you believe, as he is now focused on merely catching and shooting, a strategy that led him to go 9-16 from three against Detroit. Good news for the Hornets is that they have been defending the line very well as of late. Bad news is that all trends eventually come to an end.

The key to the game on the defensive end for the Hornets is to limit the two headed monster of Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson. Both guys can push the ball up the court and create nightmares for a defense. They play about half the game together in a small ball lineup that takes advantage of missed shots and turnovers, enabling Denver to go on large runs that could put the game out of reach. The Hornets have to make sure to limit turnovers and to take quality shots on the offensive end, because you want Denver to play as much half-court basketball as possible.

Afflalo and Gallinari are arguably Denver’s two best three-point shooters, so Denver won’t be able to stretch the floor as much as they would normally like in half court sets. With Lawson, Felton, and Gary Forbes all getting increased minutes due to the injuries, it is likely that Denver will rely more on dribble penetration from their guards and low post scoring from Nene if they can’t get into transition. Sounds simple, but it won’t be: Get back on defense and protect the paint and the Hornets win.

Other News and Notes:

– Thanks to Dariusz for the banner. It was his way of donating. He said, “Hey guys I don’t have any money to give, but could you use a Q-Pon?”

– Nene has been the biggest beneficiary of the Melo trade, as he is averaging a team high 16 PPG since the trade.

– Hornets favored by 3 tonight, over/under line set at 199.5. Hornets have covered in previous two games this year and the under won both times. Both trends continue: Hornets 97 Denver 91

– Be sure to sign up for our Hornets247 Bracket Challenge. Free to enter and winner gets CP3 Mardi Gras bobblehead and a jersey. Plus, site bragging rights for the next year. Always good to inflate that ego just a bit.

– Can’t wait to see you guys Cap…This…Pic!!

- Last, but not least. We appreciate all of the donations so far and encourage all of you to give if you have a chance. Only 4 more days of us mentioning it and it is gone for a year. We are looking forward to making a big push towards beefing up this site and every little bit helps. Thank you again from all of us!


99 comments
kempleton
kempleton

Unfortunately, this game reminded me that horrible playoff loss from 2009 :( I was in that game too? The big difference between that game and this one is : Back then I feel like we kinda missed the "passion and purpose". We only had the "pride". Today we had the passion-purpose and pride (never gave up until the last minute!) however we simply could not respond. I kept telling my brother that the magic number was 9! They kept sinking 3's and never let us make it a 9-pt game, i.e. single digit deficit. That's what kept the Nuggets strong and intact. If J-Smith did not travelled in that 3rd possession of the 4th quarter, it was going to be 3 strait stops followed by 3 strait scores. It might look like a minor detail but there a mental fight in these kind of games and the smallest mistake matters a lot! Anyway, we are 3-0 against the old Nuggets and 0-1 against the new Nuggets. :) Hope to win on Wednesday against the Nash-less Suns.

Thornton's Thunder
Thornton's Thunder

Man oh man! It felt weird in the hive tonight! I agree, there was no excitement whatsoever! We needed a spark and just couldn't get one:( I am with you so I'd hope you'd be with me too? I know it's a long freakn season, bit this looked like a different team from a couple of days ago!! I suppose these guys (or at least a few) had a purpose to play extra hard on Saturday, but just couldn't get inspired tonight! Get some rest guys...we'll be waiting for u on Wednesday!! I'm in...hope you are too!!!!!!

Holy Cow
Holy Cow

So much for Monty's motto of making the other team play our game. After 4 solid minutes to start the game we got into a street ball game with Denver and we don't have the fire power to play that game. When you go through stretches where you get 6 points in 15 possessions and the other team is knocking down 17 3's at a 58% clip, it's a miracle we didn't lose by 60 tonight. Denver played us the way they played us in the 2009 playoffs, they got physical with us. They harrassed CP3 at mid court and pushed West all over the place. We just stood around on offense and were terribly slow in transition defense. At one point they had 38 rebounds to our 19. I don't understand this kind of effort when we are essentially in playoff mode right now. Then again, what a disappointing crowd. It looked like a Monday night in November in the arena.

42
42

Under 12,000.

QueenBee
QueenBee

Hornets were outrebounded and died by the 3 point shot. Would've been nice to have more from West and Mek. Mek has been having wayyy too much foul trouble lately. West, cut your hair. It's weighing you down man. LOL.

Kenny
Kenny

Belli and Smith need more PT. Green and Ariza need more bench time. Coach can't seem to get the right personnel on the floor. Probably why Thornton got scraps for minutes.

NOLAnuffsaid
NOLAnuffsaid

why is it David West kept passing the ball? Saturday he would shoot no matter who was in his face.

JCS
JCS

Well, looks like UNC won the ACC rivalry.

seb
seb

just dont think we showed up tonight. really did look like they didnt care. sucks having a team that doesnt give a crap!!! denver did play well, but we played god awful!!!!!!!

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

Oh, the officiating was god awful tonight too. Chris, thanks for caring once the game got out of hand. This team has no mental toughness. When the other team craps on their faces. They take it laying down. The toughest person on our team, in my opinion? Marco fricking Belinelli. And he can't even get playing time after shooting over 50% from the field and deep lately.

JCS
JCS

craps on their faces? oh my

cmac81
cmac81

Landry has taken 3 shots...wtf

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

I just got back from the arena. Man, I very, very rarely leave early. But tonight, oh man. When it's going bad, it's going bad. But when you look like you don't care. I don't care. No transition defense. Lots of sitting around in the paint leaving wide open 3 point shooters. It's one thing when you are losing 70-55 after 3. It's another when they're on pace to drop 120+ on you and you can't even hustle to the ball until 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

Why is it the same story every loss, poor officiating and teams making it rain from the perimeter? i dont know which is more aggrivating

Gec
Gec

don't forget 6 or 7 dunks we allowed in the second quarter, offensive rebound allowed and a lot of unforced TO

seb
seb

yea it really is crap. it seems like the hornets always are playing a team on the night where they shoot lights out. 15 made 3 pointers. real BS considering the hornets made 9!!!

mbdtf
mbdtf

Loving J Smith!

seb
seb

Hornets D sucks tonight. 95 pts in 3 qtrs. that is awful. why is this team so inconsistent. CP3 playing bad. while everyone is doing well. Now CP3 playing great, but the rest of the team is non existent. Just wish we could play consistently!!!

42
42

What you are describing is a championship team. I wish we could do that too. We may be onthe road there, but we aren't there yet. Don't put too much in to this game, the last one, or any other single game.

Gec
Gec

42: 5th seed = you don't get the Lakers untill the WCF.

42
42

Depending on where they are seeded. The way I see it, if you aren't going to win the title, then you shouldn't 'care' who have to go through to get it. If you have to bob and weave, that amounts to an asterisk by your title. No, we need to meet our foes head on, and dole out the licks, and take the licks back. If we lose, so be it.

paul
paul

Paul...where we are is what confuses me! But I get you. I'm right there with you.

paul
paul

Gray got burned 42? See I saw hi guarding another and his teammate got burned. He had more rounds than he had minutes. And IF this team benched those getting burned tonight...who the hell is still in the game? See, to me Monty's play is really terrible.

Gec
Gec

this game was so iportant for the fifth seed. Playing at home. There is some games that are a little more than just another RS game, this was one and we played with no effort for 3 quarters

42
42

I suppose I fail to see the importance of the 5th seed.

paul
paul

supposing and probably wrong that you agree with Monty tonight. there is the possibility you are as unhappy as I am.....

42
42

Suppose all you want, my friend. Humans assume, and that's how we ended up where we are. We can envision things that don't exist, even with imperfect information. We can talk through our criss-crossings, and that's what make it's all work. Me and you, Paul.

paul
paul

42...look, you and i agree on a lot, but tonight I do not agree with Monty even if you might. I think he is playing, again, into the opposition hands and their game. Gray should have played more than 4 minutes. He was getting us rebounds and second chances. This whole team was not working tonight and to sit your seven foot center and then watch your team fall down by 20...this is very, very stupid coaching.

42
42

He got burned a couple of times, but I tend to agree that you have to have something in the middle against Chris "someone said i look like i sell drugs to kids behind my back but wouldn't say it to my face" Andersen and Mr. Martin. The defense on the guard isn't helping either. Maybe Gray isn't fast enough? I don't know. I've got it on the radio, so I'm a blind here.

JCS
JCS

Chris Anderson looks like he'd sell drugs to kids, in an Ozzy Osbourne tee.

42
42

Sounds like judging a book by it's cover and not thr content or its characters. Or history: he's got money, and he's got a history of using. So, he looks like someone who has bought drugs and used them . . . . . . who can jam. And I assume you mean t, as in t-shirt, not a golf tee. He couldn't fit in one of those, big guy like that . . . You are welcome, young man.

paul
paul

really... long live self expression!

mbdtf
mbdtf

This team will play as well as their defense does, and tonight it is awful.

Gec
Gec

keep collapsing in the middle Hornets, they aren't hot from long distance.

Gec
Gec

you gotta be kidding me. Where is the passion? Where is the intensity? Where is the effort? Where is the speed? This game's too important for the 5th seed and this is the attitude? Embarassing. CP3 talks and gives effort against Pooh Jeter but can't do anything against denver's PG? Pff

mbdtf
mbdtf

We look awful. No defense at allllllll

JCS
JCS

To echo andy's ACC Rivalry comment: George Karl, Ty Lawson, and Raymond Felton (UNC) Chris Paul (Wake Forest)

QueenBee
QueenBee

Anyone here ever failed an ACT or SAT? Or do you know anyone that did?

42
42

You can't fail. You get a score. Some colleges or whatever may not like the score and react according, but there is no fail. I did quite well, so my understanding of the matter is, perhaps, limited. I did teach at a major university, so I had that angle on it, too.

42
42

Sounds like a victory for google. And I still see NBA teams...

andy
andy

Is there some troll of the year contest I'm not aware of going on?

42
42

Not that I know of. Why do you ask?

QueenBee
QueenBee

Nobody gives a sh*t about a Felton/Paul rivalry. Are you serious? So Felton finally decides to play well in his 6th season and now it's a rivalry? LMAO.

42
42

Agreed, Queen. Agreed. I was talking to Ed about his hair. Shave it off, D.

andy
andy

Chris should dislike williams too, the Illini were the first team to beat wake and they beat them by 20 when wake was #1 in the country. But chris and d-will are close. Chris wanted to go to UNC his whole life, and he never even got recruited by them cause they had Felton. Felton won the title but has been in Chris's shadow for 7 years now. The rivalry there is from both sides.

42
42

All interesting, andy. It does certainly sound like you think college issues don't translate into a rivalry in the pros perforce, as Williams and Paul are friends. I agree. Good man. Again, this game, whatever it says about people, says nothing about the schools' rivalry, which is what I was actually saying in my conversation with the always entertaining JCS.

andy
andy

stop downplaying the Felton-Paul rivalry. Its real and dates back before you were a fan of CP3.

42
42

Also, a good friend of mine got a degree from UNC and is a researcher at Duke. My uncle went to State. Two good friends are Hokies. I keep up with ACC and SEC. Outside of that, it's final four folks.

42
42

I'm not downplaying it. The colleges are irrelevant; the players are not. Williams is the one who should be a little upset regarding Felton.