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Game On: Suns @ Hornets (and some thoughts on attendance)

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Published: April 8, 2011

Phoenix Suns (38-40) @ New Orleans Hornets (45-33)

Update- No Steve Nash. The picture below scared him off.

Pace: Suns 96.8 (8th), Hornets 90.8 (29th)
Offensive Efficiency: Suns 106.9 (9th), Hornets 104.1 (18th)
Defensive Efficiency: Suns 106.9 (22nd) , Hornets 101.8 (7th)

Caption me

It’s another must-win game for the the Hornets if they want to secure the sixth seed out West, and of course it’s occurring immediately after  day two of French Quarter Fest, a free event featuring music on 17 outdoor stages, the world’s largest jazz brunch, a children’s stage, patio tours, art shows, dance lessons and more. FQ-fest is quickly becoming one of the premier festivals in New Orleans, and and there’s a distinct possibility that it’s going to cut into the Hornets attendance (sometimes things like this go the other way, though). I couldn’t get too much information about expected attendance, other than that there are tickets available in all pricing categories, but it sounded like a safe bet the Arena won’t be packed to the brim like it should be for a crucial game on a beautiful Friday night.

If you haven’t already, buy some tickets. Prove me wrong. Normally I’m not a fan of being wrong, but tonight it would be a true pleasure.

One important opinion to note, in my mind, of attendance and fan support, is none other than Chris Paul’s brother, CJ Paul. As you might have heard, CP3 tweeted a while back about fan attendance, but it’s his brother who has commented repeatedly on the fans in New Orleans via Twitter. He’s been noticeably displeased lately, as he should be. Despite the Hornets best efforts (Groupon, ticket specials,  I’m in, etc), ticket sales remain low.

There is a lot of buzz (sorry) around town about the “I’m in” promotion, it’s certainly now common to see cars with stickers and houses with signs. The team really did a incredible job incorporating local celebrities from all different social scenes, and while it would be nice to see these celebrities on camera at game, ticket sales have still struggled to reach what anyone would call an acceptable level for a team in a three way cage match for playoff seeding in the brutal Western Conference. The average since the program was announced (before the Denver game on 3/14) is 14,188.

You can take it even a step further and look at attendance figures since “I’m in” really had time to go into full effect (after a sell-out Boston game 5 days after the press conference, in which saw the Hornets fans regularly out-cheered by those wearing Green), and that’s where it gets ugly– 13,940. That’s about 3,000 below a reasonable number for games as important as those being played in that time period by a team as good as the Hornets.

That said, the program can’t really be judged by the effectiveness of it’s ability to draw people to crowds this year, but more next year. It appears to me that it’s a long term strategy, meant to get people to buy partial or full season ticket plans  as opposed to single game tickets. A few people I’ve spoken to about the campaign have been quick to throw it under the bus, noting the low attendance since the program was announced on March 14th , but I really think it has more to do with so many fans accepting what a David West injury meant to the team’s championship aspirations. It’s hard to get people to believe that the team is capable of doing anything now that their second best player is gone, especially since most of the country never thought so to begin with.

But if they keep winning, people will come. Honestly I come out of every game a little more optimistic than I was coming in. It’s getting to that point where I am contemplating picking the Hornets in a first round series, no matter who they play. I want to pick them, I truly do, and if they keep playing the way they have been, they will have a very real chance to upset somebody in the postseason. Fact is, the fans that come are generally very good.

When they show up, they give the Hornets a real home-court advantage, something that is essential for an underdog to score an upset. The defense is already there, and Carl Landry, Chris Paul, and Trevor Ariza have really stepped up their games lately. With the team seemingly more willing to pull the trigger on shots early in the shot clock, I genuinely think that there is hope for Big Easy basektball, both this year and beyond.

As for the game tonight…

There isn’t that much to say that hasn’t been said before.

  • Locking down the paint is priority number one
  • Quick, proper rotations to prevent Phoenix from taking too many open threes is number two.
  • Paul and Landry shouldn’t struggle to score against the lowly Phoenix defense, but it’s important either Emeka, Ariza, Jack, or Belli, gets going on offense. One of them should. It is Phoenix, after all.
  • Jack off the bench is huge.

Notes from the Arena

  • Predict the final score of this game, and get a FREE HAT AND JERSEY (must be done in the forum to qualify).
  • If the Hornets finish 2-2, both Ryan and I will have correctly predicted the Hornets final regular season record. I’m hoping that we both wind up on the low side by one or two games.
  • My prediction was the 7th seed, which would be less than desirable at this point. Again, let’s hope I’m wrong.
  • I will be on WWL Radio at 4:20 to talk Hornets.
  • Check out Mikey’s post on the Hornets finishing with a good record in the SW, and Cp3′s Ode to the video replay man.
  • Hornets haven’t won three in a row since January, but they have won five of seven.
  • With a win, the Hornets will temporarily tie the Trailblazers (who play later tonight against the Lakers) and overtake them for the 6-seed, thanks to winning the season series. GO LA!
  • Marcus Thorton has a chance to help the Hornets again, as the Kings head to Memphis tonight. Go Kings!
  • I’ll be on ESPN’s Daily Dime Chat throughout the game, so stop by if you have a minute.

Notes From the Actual Arena

  • Monty Williams is the third head coach in Hornets history to make the postseason in their first year at the helm, joining Cowens (96-97), and Floyd (03-04)
  • Landry has averaged 17.7-6.8 since entering the starting lineup for D-West.
  • No Steve Nash.
  • There’s some sort of phone in thing for the “I’m in” promotion, where all game long local celebrities will be calling around to inquire if people are “in”. I’ll keep you updated.
  • Voting started today for the THN MVP award. The six names on the list so far- Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Dirk, and…
  • wait for it
  • CHRIS PAUL! Yes, it’s true. Chris Paul gets respect, as he should, from THN. Don’t be surprised if he finished top 5 in the real vote if the Hornets can score the 6-seed.

Quotes From Monty’s Pre-Game Press Conference (I missed most of it because despite living here for years and attending hundreds of games, I still can’t detour effectively when need be). Most of this is in reference to questions about guys he used to play with.

  • “They obviously never thought they would see me coaching, let alone being a head coach, and they’ve let me know a number of times”
  • “The bible says god uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, so I’m definitely one of those foolish things.”
  • “I think there’s a little bit of respect for what we’ve done, but a bit of a wild factor that I’m the one kind of heading it up. So they kind of laugh and crack their jokes after a while, but they realize we’re trying to do a good job.”
  • “I’m not that much of a dinosaur yet. My knees feel like it…”
63 comments
James Grayson
James Grayson

Lol Willie Green is trending Worldwide on Twitter...

chiefyoungblood
chiefyoungblood

hittin' that playoff stride Ariza 3 very good games in a row ( fingers crossed )

Gec
Gec

the hornets won a game with offense! Willie why after 12/12 you evens shot the ball :(

Bee-fense
Bee-fense

Any word on what the official attendance is?

BIG ROB
BIG ROB

WILLE KILLING THE SUNS OH YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

peronas
peronas

Hive so loud Victor is getting drowned out while trying to give the sideline report lol

Go Blue
Go Blue

Gooooooooooooooo Willie!!!!!!!!! that dude is beyond excited!

justinho
justinho

The fact that Cheryl Miller's hairdo looks so similar to Aaron Gray's is not a good thing for Cheryl.

JCS
JCS

Cheryl has the body of a man and Aaron has the teets of a woman.

justinho
justinho

This is the type of situation where Chris Paul is going to have to realize how they're playing him and take advantage. They've put Grant Hill on him for his length and just sagged off by at least 3-4 feet almost every time, going under every screen, begging Paul to shoot. Paul is going to have to start being assertive and oblige.

cp3pdx
cp3pdx

Good half, especially by Willie. Lets go at Gortat to start the 3rd. We get him in foul trouble, this will get easy.

sweetpea
sweetpea

Trevor and Willie ate some Wheaties this morning!

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

this marco management has to change. if you want a confident shooter in the playoff you can't play him and get him pay for every team mistake.

sweetpea
sweetpea

When Marco played at Golden State he attacked the rim a lot more than he does with the Hornets. Those were by far his best years in the NBA too. I'm surprised Coach doesn't let him do that more; the few games he's done so with the Bees he's looked real good. Marco is a bit like Trevor in that regard.

justinho
justinho

Man, that was some kind of atrocious call on Landry against Carter. Way to punish great active defense, douchebags.

JCS
JCS

Alvin Gentry jumping out his shoes made me LOL

Gec
Gec

the hive is on fire tonight! So loud!

Gec
Gec

Caption: Nash: mmmmmh let me touch your boobs Paul: i'm a man and THAT'S A BASKETBALL (scores)

Mike Bee
Mike Bee

J Smith and Willie Green come in an the energy goes nuts. Landry is going to be a problem with a lengthy team like this.

cp3pdx
cp3pdx

I would pay to see Gray vs Siller in a buffet line

paul
paul

i am soooooooooooooooo weary of this trash talk.

Kyle
Kyle

Caption: Nash doesn't like him when he's angry...

rmorales07
rmorales07

im out of NOLA this weekend.. can someone give me links to watch the game?

cp3pdx
cp3pdx

its on nbatv if that helps

pinoyballah
pinoyballah

caption: "Nash-comeon Chris, let me rest my head on your shoulder CP-OH HELLL NAH"

AllBall
AllBall

42, there was no reply button next to your comment, but thanks for the kind offer and I will talk to you more about that when I have booked the tickets.

42
42

They seem to go only 3 deep, the comments. You'd think computers could count higher, eh?

RobertM320
RobertM320

42, Regarding the comments... when the comments are at three deep, if you click on the highest up comment that has a reply button, it puts your comment in the proper order.

42
42

Yes yes. It just seems odd to me. I know it's a formatting/neatness thing, but it just seems weird that they don't all have reply and just stop adding indenture.

Chuck
Chuck

Caption: Paul: "MY BALL!! MY BALL!!!!!" Nash: "Whoa, it's cool man, it's cool"

AllBall
AllBall

James Online, are you actually a Hornet fan? I read most comments, do not comment often, but you are way more pessimistic than realistic.

James Online
James Online

Honestly, if an event in the FQ limits the Hornets' attendance then the Bees really are out of town next year.

42
42

It certainly won't affect tickets distributed to season ticket holders. By the way, I added 6 seats to my plan today. The ones I talked about yesterday. So, I have my 10 season tickets (personal and work groups) and 2 more a friend of mine has that 'spun off', so 12 in the 'collective'. So that's 6 new from me (exceeded my goal of 2), plus the 2 from thechosenuno, 4 from Chris Trew, and 4 from the site. 16 of 50 in about a week. The rep said sales have picked up since the playoffs were announced. Time will tell, of course. Anyone else add season tickets yet?

AllBall
AllBall

If I lived in the US, I would be there. I am actually planning a trip to New Orleans for next season with my girl and my 1 year old boy. That was a bit off topic, but can I just say that I love the positive attitude you have, as well as your intricate knowledge of the team and city.

42
42

You let us know when you come and, I think I can speak for Joe and the locals, we'll help you to the extent you want in finding good stuff for you, your lady, and the 1 (2) year old. If it's during the season, I have 10 seats and 1 ass, so I can usually hook up a visitor with tickets by horsetrading with my ticketmates or just hand you mine. And you'd know alot about this place if you knew how obscenely good the food is, and obscene was a Brit's term, not mine, so you can take that to the bank.

James Online
James Online

Caption: Nash: "Hey, Chris, ever get the MVP?"

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

Caption: (in kid voice) "Coach Williams, Steve is trying to take my balllll"

Mikey
Mikey

Well... I had to put my tickets on Hornets ticket exchange due to competing priorities. Usually when I sell my tickets thru that program, they don't sell till the 11th hour. Well, this time my tickets sold yesterday. I'll take that as an encouraging sign that the crowd will be good.

Drugoas
Drugoas

Can i get a FAN UP!?!?! That was the best.

Bee4life
Bee4life

Done and done. To the Hive I go. Guess I gotta support the team. Long drive, but if the team needs me that bad then im there! If I lived in nola i'd go to every game, but it's hard out here in baton rouge.

NolaHog
NolaHog

I was thinking about the attendance issue the other day, also. There were thousands of people @ Wednesday on the Square, but a small crowd in the arena. French Quarter fest represents the same scenario. The organization needs to be better at partnering with these events. If they had some sort of promotional ticket deal with the Square organizers (YLC), all of the people could have headed over to the game after the concert. Same thoughts for FQ fest. I read the ESPN article today about small market NBA teams, and they talked about how small markets have to build their teams slowly so that they're sustainable. Specfically, they talked about OKC and brought up the point that with absolutely nothing else to do in the state of Oklahoma, attendance won't waiver in the face of rebuilding, because "what else do the fans have to compete for their interests?" They then talked about how big markets have to make pricey moves, because if they're not competing in a big city, people will lose interest quickly, because they've got other entertainment options. New Orleans is an enigma, because as far as potential fan base size, we are one of the smallest markets. As all of us that live here know, however, New Orleans has as much entertainment as any city in America. That's what makes our market tough, but if the product is good (Saints), people will still come out to support it. The Hornets have lost a lot of fan support over the past couple of years because of some poor play and some bad luck. For starters, the epic tank against the Nuggets was where it all started. The follow up season with Chris Paul out for most of the season and the Hornets missing the playoffs was a massive blow, magnified by the Saints dream season. The Hornets were effectively forgotten at that point, and then we changed over 80% of our roster and management. New Orleanians were like, "Oh yeah, what are the Hornets up to?" only to find out that there were all new people on the team. Obviously, the problems from the Chris Paul rumors and the sale of the team to the NBA don't need to explained. I agree with Joe, if the team wins and can be competitive in the playoffs, the fans will return. Even though this is a tough market, the silver lining that I realized after reading the ESPN article became obvious. Even though we're a small market team, guys want to come play here. Millwauke and Cleveland and Sacramento are worried that players won't think their cities are glitzy enough to live in, and they pass them over for cooler cities (LA, NY, Chi). Fortunately, New Orleans has glitz to go around, even if it hurts us at times like these.

42
42

NolaHog . . . Tickets?

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

This is probably Journal length. Very good points. This summer I'm going to put together a "sales pitch" if you will, for perspective free agents who are being pursued by New Orleans to take a look at. It will apply to both the Saints and Hornets. The benefits to being an athlete here are pretty substantial.

504ever
504ever

Joe, Your point about the "I'm in" program being long term are very well taken. Everyone show up and GO HORNETS!!!!!

GreenBee
GreenBee

Thought the bees were dead a week ago. Now I'm not so sure. There is life in the Hive!

Hornetsfan101
Hornetsfan101

Great site by the way. Just found it. Awesommmmmmme. So much better than T-P. That place is just quotes, and quotes and more quotes. Who cares what dudes have to say or about points per game? That crap dont matta! ADVANCED STATS FOR LIFE!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] seeing in the Arena.  Apparently neither is anyone else, judging by the New Orleans Hornets’ sagging ticket sales.  And I get it.  Truly, I do.  Any team that loses a two-time NBA All-Star from its line-up is [...]