New Orleans Hornets Beat the Rockets, Make the Playoffs

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Published: April 6, 2011

The Hornets beat the Rockets tonight to secure their spot in the playoffs, and effectively end Houston’s chances in the process. Chris Paul came to play, and with some help off the bench in the form of Jarret Jack and Jason Smith, he got it done.

YES!!!!! YESSSSSS!!!!!!!! YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GEAUX HORNETS!

After trailing by 16 following a Dragic jumper with 4:45 to go in the first half, the Hornets finally found their groove offensively, and remember how to play defense. They closed out the half on a 14-2 run, running the score to a much closer 55-51.

With 4:50 to go in the third quarter the Hornets took their first lead of the night, 66-63, on a wide open Marco Belinelli three pointer, and from them on they never fell behind my more than a few buckets. It was an eventful third quarter, and the small crowd was brought to it’s feet repeatedly in opposition of the referees’ decisions, and Jason Smith’s actions. At the conclusion, the Hornets led 74-71.

The final quarter was thrilling, as the Hornets and Rockets battled back and forth in front of a crowd that got to see a game worth every penny of what they paid.

The Point Gods (pronounced with a Boston accent)

Chris Paul

Maybe Chris Paul took exception to me even mentioning that he needed to hold his own against Lowry, maybe he just knew how badly the Hornets needed this game, or maybe he just decided to remind everyone how awesome he is. Whatever it was, he brought his A-game tonight, and Houston was powerless to stop him.

He was taking his outside jumper when he had it, and that caused Houston to pick him up higher. When they did, a quick move off of any sort of pick was all he needed to get inside, collapsing the defense. As we all know that’s CP3’s bread and butter. It’s good to see him feeling comfortable enough with the mid-range J to make it effective again.

His free-throw poaching was in full effect, as he ran into the opposition all over the floor, drawing calls that have seemed to escape him all year. It’s important that he gets those easy buckets in the playoffs. In previous years I would say he was the best in the league at it, but this year for whatever reason it hasn’t worked quite as well. His free throw rate has been down as a result.

Possibly most importantly, he was making plays that only CP3 can make. There was a long period of time when we were all asking, “what is wrong with CP3?” because from a fan’s perspective his play has been less exciting this year than in the past. Perhaps we are getting closer to seeing his at 100%. Tonight was straight CP3, vintage 2007.

He finished with 28 points on 10-20 shooting, to go with 10 assists vs 1 TO, 9 rebounds, and 1 steal. It was truly a performance that left jaws dropped, and should concern whoever the Hornets see in the first round. When Paul plays like this, the Hornets are a competent offensive team, even without David West. We already know what they are capable of on defense.

Jarrett Jack

Known as a second half, player Jack was HUGE off the bench tonight as CP3’s favorite dance partner. The duo methodically carved up whatever Houston threw at them, and showed a glimpse of what Hornets fans can expect to see a bunch of next year and in the playoffs. There has been a lot of debate about Jack’s value to the team, and his ability to play alongside Paul without seeing major minutes as the guy, but the guy can ball. He’s the most talented player the Hornets have had in the backcourt in years, and he’s showing that more and more often lately.

Jack wasn’t hesitating to take open shots, as he shouldn’t, and the result was a Hornets offense that wasn’t stagnant, didn’t use up every second of every shot clock, and genuinely looked, dare I say, explosive.

On defense he was equally excellent, both in man on man, and as a help defender. He was making great decisions about when to go up to challenge shots, and repeatedly his mark seemed hesitant to take jumpers. When you’re not committed to taking a shot, the result is more often than not a poor one.

As would be expected, he was on the floor the entire fourth quarter, and was a huge part of the victory. His two free throws with 11.5 seconds to go extended the lead to 4, and sent the Hornets to the playoffs as a result.

He finished with 19 points on 10 shots, to go with 5 assists vs 0 turnovers, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. Money. In. The Bank.

Other Player Notes

  • Okafor did his part on defensively and although he didn’t grab many boards, he was locating his mark and boxing out every time. He was literally the reason that the Hornets weren’t a total mess inside defensively. Guy is a baller, even if Hollinger doesn’t think he’s one of the best defensive centers (debate!)
  • There was stretch in in the third quarter when Jason Smith made his presence felt. First he tried to drive and dish, an…interesting decision. He followed that up by missing what should have been a thunderous dunk on the trailer on the next possession. He was hacked on the play, a flagrant-1, and had to go to the locker room temporarily for medical attention. On his way off the floor he pumped his fist and screamed passionately. The energy brought their crowd to their feet, and when he checked out a minute later (after sinking both free throws), he received a roaring ovation. He’s going to be the best Mark Madsen ever for the playoffs (and will play, too!). I love the energy.
  • Landry wasn’t there offensively (5 points on 10 shots), but his rebounding was huge. The Hornets needed all 9 of them.
  • Ariza had a really good game. He limited the number of jumpers he took, played fantastic defense, both one on one and in the passing lanes, and was a transition monster. (edit- It’s been mentioned that I understated Ariza’s performance. You’re all very right. He was as important to the team as anyone not named Chris Paul tonight. Excellent game, Trevor.)

Game Notes

  • Those military guys sure know how to do pushups…
  • Attendance was 12,728… Those in attendance were great!

85 Comments

  1. Pingback: Thursday Bullets: Lakers und Heat verlieren, Pacers und Hornets in den Playoffs, Spurs Nr. 1 im Westen | FIVE Basketball-Magazin - NBA Blog

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