Game On: Trailblazers at Hornets – Drive Slow

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Published: March 30, 2011

Matchup: Blazers (43-31) @ Hornets (42-32)

Off Efficiency: Blazers: 108.6 (10th); 106.1 (20th)

Def Efficiency: Blazers: 106.6 (14th); 104.4 (6th)

The Hornets and the Trailblazers have a lot in common right now beyond their close proximity in the standings. They’ve both been plagued by injuries, sometimes struggle to score, and traded for athletic power forwards at the deadline.  The most remarkable similarity, though, is the pace at which they play the game; they’re two of the slowest teams in the NBA.  The Hornets are 28th in pace, the ’Blazers are 30th.  If Vegas set a line on total possessions, the number for this game would be about as low as it could get.

The Blazers are coming off a Sunday/Monday back-to-back consisting of a tough loss in Oklahoma City and an uninspired win in San Antonio where the Spurs played without Parker, Duncan, Ginobli, or McDyess, and the Blazers still had trouble putting them away.  The Hornets have had a couple of days to rest at home (and really, it looked like they got some rest during the Lakers game, too).  This really could be a deciding factor in the game, especially at this point in the season – to say nothing of the Hornets’ need of the break to adjust their rotations in light of West’s season ending injury.

With Brandon Roy’s knees betraying him and limiting his PT, LaMarcus Aldridge is now the on-court leader for Portland.  He’s always been a great athlete and excellent shooter, but he’s developed more toughness and a far more powerful presence in the paint on both ends of the floor.  The Hornets’ defensive discipline will be crucial against Aldridge; because of the diversity of his game, he requires frequent double teams and smart switches.

Even though Aldridge is the star now, the biggest match-up challenge for many teams this month has been Gerald Wallace.  He’s a  quick, athletic four with great shot selection.  In other words, we need a great game from Landry.  Landry and Wallace might be described as very similar players: offensively gifted power forwards.  Wallace’s acquisition made a bigger splash and a lot of folks consider him a better defender than Landry.  While Wallace might get a lot of steals,  I’d rather have the guy who’s willing to take a bite out of Dirk’s elbow if need be (if you’re doubting Landry’s toughness, watch his nonplussed reaction to losing several of his teeth).  Landry  needs to be able to stop Wallace (or, barring that, outscore him) and be willing to switch on to Aldridge when we need him.

As a certain recently acquired Knick might say, this game (along with all the other games from here on out) is “almost a must-win.” If you’re at the hive tonight, make sure to bring the noise.

Other notes:

  • A win tonight would give us the tiebreaker with Portland, meaning a better shot at seeing the Mavs in the round one.  Of course, given the way the top four teams are playing right now, it’s not inconceivable that the Lakers could trade spots with the Spurs and the Thunder could trade spots with the Mavs in the standings.  Still, let’s win this one, right?
  • Brandon Roy’s back seized up on him in the OKC game and he took some hard fouls in San Antonio, so his already limited minutes may be even more so.  Nate McMillan has been deploying Roy wisely, saving him for situations where the team can use his focus, intelligence, and killer instincts.  Roy is also still capable of short stretches of brilliant defense (just watch Kobe’s game winner over him from the previous weekend—Kobe made the clinching shot despite Roy’s perfect defense on the play)
  • One of the ways the Blazers slow the game down is with the intermittent use of the zone to disrupt their opponent’s offensive flow.  What’s a great way to shred a zone?  A perimeter shooter makes a couple of early threes, forcing the D to play tight on the shooter, opening up lanes for the ball handler to penetrate or distribute.  If Bellinelli or Green can hit some deep shots early, it should help Paul create some easy buckets.  Here’s hoping Marco recovers from his Sunday shooting woes.

This post is courtesy of Scott Carter-Eldred, who won the I am Hornets247 Grand Prize for our donation drive.   It’s nice that the Hornets community produces intelligent fans, yes?  For more of Scott, catch him on the upcoming podcast, where he helps me make Michael look foolish and we have a segment about Quincy Pondexter and his future with the squad.

Notes From the Arena

  • Since taking over as a starter, Landry has averaged 21.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in 37 minutes.
  • A Hornets win would give them the advantage over the Blazers in a tie-break thanks to winning the season series.
  • Hornets are first in the Western Conference in points allowed per game, and the Blazers are second.
  • Monty talked about how he doesn’t talk to Nate McMillan anywhere near as much as he did in the beginning of his season, referring to whether or not the fight for playoff seeding had affected their relationship.
  • David West walked by on a crutch about halfway through the pre-game interview, drawing a question about him. Monty said that you can’t hope to fill David West’s shoes, but instead the team needs to focus on playing better defense in his absence.
  • He talked a little bit about LaMarcus Aldridge’s rise this year to performing as the franchise cornerstone, saying it was unexpected, even within the organization.
  • A Blazers reported asked him about whether or not he would attack Brandon Roy on offense. Monty wouldn’t say.
77 comments
Aussie Hornet
Aussie Hornet

David, awesome write up dude. I was reading it on my phone this morning and assumed it was written by Ryan/Michael/Joe. Then realized it was the I Am Hornets 247 content winner and was amazed. As jealous as I am, I must admit that was quality stuff! :)

coach44
coach44

Gil post game comment, "when Paddy Mills had to go one on one with Chris Paul, he became a paddy melt."

Gec
Gec

great team effort, Mek was big evenif he missed a couple of layups. Landry was really attacking and willie with some amazing shot in the fourth!! CP3 had more assists than points, that's a great win :D

JCS
JCS

Very important win.

peronas
peronas

Well my final 8 game prediction is off to a delightfully terrible start!!! :) good win!

504ever
504ever

I said the Hornets needed to go 6-6 in their last 12 with a win a over Portland to make the playoffs and possibly get a rest game. They are 3-2 with a win over Portland and looking good for the 6th seed. Portland looks like they will go either 4-3 or 3-4 in their last 7 games. We should be able to get at least 4 wins in our last 7, which put us ahead of Portland. If one win is over Memphis to win that series (we have two games with Memphis left), that would mean our current one game lead over Memphis is really a two game lead. So Memphis would have to win all of their other 6 games to beat us, assuming we go 4-3. We could literally lock up 6th place in the next four home games. (Portland should go 1-4 in that period.) So look at the scores and come out to support your Hornets!!!!!!!!!!

clutch19
clutch19

yessirrrrrr... Big win against a hot team...

Gec
Gec

are you serious matthews?! Nothing but net from 25f with the hand on his face

Gec
Gec

that's travelling andre miller!

mbdtf
mbdtf

How is that a foul on Paul?

seb
seb

can we please close this out??!!

clutch19
clutch19

Lets close this one out fellas......

Duckathon
Duckathon

Nice team game by the Hornets.

mbdtf
mbdtf

JACKKKKKKKK

42
42

I didn't even try after the bank shot...

42
42

Kick his ass, Jarrett!

mbdtf
mbdtf

JACK ABOUT TO KILL RUDY

42
42

I'm a step behind you tonight, mbdtf. I salute you.

mbdtf
mbdtf

Haha I noticed that as well. I feel honored.

clutch19
clutch19

wowwwwwwwwww... what a put back by Green

mbdtf
mbdtf

WILLIE GREEEEEEN WITH THE DUNK

cp3pdx
cp3pdx

That putback was VICIOUS

clutch19
clutch19

I feel kind of bad listening to the opposing commentators criticize the attendance, or lack of.. jason Smith has come out and made a couple of plays right away...

mbdtf
mbdtf

There we gooooo!

seb
seb

now lets show some consistency in the 4th quarter!!!

mbdtf
mbdtf

So he finally decides to take it to the rack, and he gets the and 1. Do that more often!!!

mbdtf
mbdtf

CP3 playing like he did against the Celtics last time we played them. Similar game too. One of those games where if he could just have an average game, we'd win... He needs to get going on offense!

lancebrou68
lancebrou68

one time he needs to lay it up he doesnt

mbdtf
mbdtf

Ariza just had to hit the rim....

mbdtf
mbdtf

Aldridge posts up on Okafor...foul on Okafor. Okafor posts up on Aldridge... foul on Okafor.

clutch19
clutch19

Glad that we are finally getting the benefit of some foul calls.

Gec
Gec

Can CP3 show some consistency?

mbdtf
mbdtf

Also, Warriors up 5 on Grizzlies at half.

clutch19
clutch19

we did a great job in closing out the half on a little run. Can someone tell me why it was Okafor taking the technical free throws. If we can somehow get Paul going then we should be able to create some breathing room... On another note, Houston loss tonight.

peronas
peronas

They were flagrant FTs so Mek had to take them since the foul was on him.

42
42

Houston lost.

mbdtf
mbdtf

Rockets lost!

peronas
peronas

GET THAT OUTTA HERE MEK!!!

mbdtf
mbdtf

Wallace got lit up!!!

peronas
peronas

Then of course Mathews/Miller have to take exception that you know one of them didn't call out the screen like they should have and take it out on Mek. Idiots...

peronas
peronas

Patrick Ewing Jr getting some time!

mbdtf
mbdtf

Aldridge getting the Kobe treatment

CP3nBrees
CP3nBrees

Well, at least the 76ers doing some favor for us tonight, up 10 with 4 min left

Gec
Gec

DWest commentating with Gil and Bob, that's awesome :D ! Please Hornets, play some D and rebound the ball.

clutch19
clutch19

the fouls that are being called on us in the first half are ridiculous.....

mbdtf
mbdtf

Also, Chris Paul... feel free to put the basketball into the hoop.