Landry Propels New Orleans Hornets to Big Win Over Trailblazer

Published: March 30, 2011

The New Orleans Hornets beat the Trailblazers in a thrilling contest behind power forward Carl Landry. The win solidified their standing in the Western Conference playoff race, moving into the 6th seed. BOX SCORE

Early on, LaMarcus Aldridge really went to town on the Hornets both offensively and on the glass. He finished the first half with 14 points on 11 shots to go with 9 boards. Last year it was debatable who the better player was, West or Aldridge, but even before West’s injury, Aldridge had taken a step past him.

Monty talked a little bit in the pre-game about how even those in the Portland organization didn’t expect him to take such a big step forward, and you can go ahead and include me in the group of surprised people. He just looks calmer out there now, as if he made an effort to be more deliberate with his offense.

Thankfully for the Hornets, Marco Belinelli was on in the first half, going 4-6 for 13 points. There was a 77 second span in the second quarter where he scored 9 points on three straight three-pointers. The Hornets needed that pick-me-up, and likely would have fallen into a big hole otherwise. They were down eight when he went on his shooting spree, and were down by as many as 11 only a few minutes previously.

With just over a minute left in the first half Emeka Okafor laid out a huge Pick on an unaware Gerald Wallace, literally sending him directly to the floor for the remainder of the play. Seconds later Okafor went up for a dunk and was taken down hard in retaliation by Andre Miller, who was given a flagrant one. That fired up Okafor for a sick block on the ensuing Portland possession, capping a nice first half.

From them on, Okafor was a all over the place on defense. He did a much better job on Aldrige in the second half, preventing him from grabbing so many boards, and keeping easy buckets to a minimum. Where he really made an impact was with his help defense. When he wasn’t laying out sick blocks (he had 3), he was disrupting shots. Although he had another 5-second violation, he was incredibly active in the paint when trying to get position.

One thing I didn’t get is when the Hornet went to him three times in a row in the post during the closing minutes of the third quarter. I get that there aren’t many options for creating, and that Okafor one on one in the post might look like a good option, but it rarely is. Mek is having a nice year offensively, but it’s mostly a product of other people creating for him.

To start the fourth, the Hornets went with Jack, Paul, Green, Smith, and Okafor. The result was some sweet defense, a few nice offensive possession in which the Hornets actually drove the lane, and a 10-3 run to start the quarter.

It was 80-75 Blazers when Landry checked into the game for J-Smith with 7:30 to go in the game, but the Hornets weren’t done with their small-ball lineup. Willie Green, especially was not done. He brought down one of the sickest Hornets dunks of the year off an offensive rebound, bringing the crowd to it’s feet. When I get the clip, it will be right here-

After a timeout with 5:32 on the clock, and the Hornets leading 82-75, they went right back out with the 3-guard rotation. Jack immediately hit a jumper, bringing the lead to 9. It was around then that the refs decided to make their impact known. Lots of calls both ways, including one that got Emeka his 5th foul, and double technical fouls on Jack and Fernandez.

Jack took it in stride, connecting on his next attempt to keep the Hornets lead at 9, but Aldrige, who the Hornets had a much harder time controlling when Emeka was off the floor, grabbed an offensive board and knocked down the 4-footer to get the lead back to seven with three minutes to go.

After a timeout, the Horntes brought Okafor back onto the floor alongside Landry and the three guard lineup. Right away Aldridge tried to go to work on Okafor to no avail. He wound up having to kick it out. It was too bad when Roy’s jumper fell as the shot clock expired, turning a good defensive possession into a waste. Okafor’s tip in on the other end answered, but Aldridge quickly came back with an alley-oop to get it back to 5. Chris Paul said “It’s 2008” for a second, and fired back with a layup in traffic.

And then Okafor fouled out on a stupid play. No excuse for him fouling out right there. None. It could have easily cost the Hornets the game. After the free throws it was a five point game with 90 seconds to go.

A slow deliberate possession wound up with Paul being unable to get a shot off, and after a quick Andrew miller layup, it was a one possession game. After a foul on Landry, in which he hit one free throws, the Hornets fouled Andrew Miller, who also hit just one. Jack missed a big three that would have ended it, and with 20 seconds left the Blazers had a chance, down three.

A Willie Green steal which wound up putting the ball in Carl Landry’s hands for three throws seemed to be a good sign for the Bees, especially after Landy hit both free throws. Of course that would assume that Wesley Mathews wouldn’t knock down a 28 footer just seconds later to cut it back to two.

After a foul, Landry went back to the line, sinking both yet again. Four big ones from a guy who shoots only 77% for his career was just enough to propel the team to victory.

Game Notes

  • Landry did what was needed on offense, but again it was made clear why he’s not really a starter in this league. He’s just not big enough physically to hold his own against guys 4-5 inches taller. That said, he’s a fantastic bench option. Games like this make me so sad that we will have wait until next year to really see what this team was capable of. Don’t be fooled by non-Hornets writers. Next year is going to be better than this one in New Orleans.
  • The defense won this game.
  • The trio of Paul, Jack and Green were phenomenal in the fourth. That’s a lineup that can cause havoc for opposing coaches, especially when they have to change their rotations to adjust, like what happened tonight. Monty got the better of his former mentor.
  • Chris Paul was way off shooting (4-15), but he was moving like he used to, grabbing important boards, breaking ankles, and delivering slick no-look passes that seemed to surprise even his teammates. If he plays like this, and finds his shot, the Hornets can make noise in a playoff series. Unfortunately, jumpers (like his wide open three in the fourth) falling well short are typically a result of tired/injured legs. He needs some rest, especially after playing 45 minutes tonight. The Hornets needed every one.
  • Andre Miller made a full length nothing-but-net shot in New Orleans about 5 seconds after the halftime buzzer sounded. He was really excited about it, even though it obviously didn’t matter.
  • If Ariza takes 1,000 three pointers a day each day before the playoffs, he might be better at shooting the three pointer. Otherwise I’m not sure what his role should be on offense.
  • What in the world was Michael Jordan thinking when he gave up Gerald Wallace for table scraps? Maybe he should have stuck to playing.
  • Patrick Ewing jr saw his first time for the Hornets, coming in with about 2:30 left in the first. He gave it his all, but didn’t have much of an impact either way.
  • Those in attendance were awesome. Those who didn’t come make me sad. Two years ago this was a sellout. Today there were 12,500. There was bad weather, but still that’s way too low for what was a must-win late season game.
  • The headline for this is the same headline I said I would use in the pregame. UptownSammy’s headline was probably better, but I didn’t want to go back on my promise.

Look, it’s the Bee-Zanies!


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