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

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…”


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