Jazz Shut Down the Hornets

Published: April 11, 2011

The Jazz beat the Hornets behind a balanced attack that saw all five starters score in double figures. The Hornets loss came despite Chris Paul scoring basketball points (incredible, I know) and…


Oh, that was it. Nobody else really showed up. Even Paul’s game was subpar.

After a first half that saw the Hornets settle for jumper after jumper, the second half started with 6 minutes of nearly jumpshot-free ball, which resulted in 6 Hornets free throws in the process. It was clear that Monty had said something during halftime about being aggressive, and the guys listened. On the other end the Hornets picked up their intensity and stopped allowing so many easy buckets inside.

Yet the deficit kept growing. The Jazz were making their jumpers, contested or not, and they started getting to the line as well after a first half in which they attempted only two free throws. On the other end, the Hornets didn’t convert enough of their easy shots inside. If you can’t make layups, you aren’t going to win games. It’s as simple as that.

At the end of three, the score stood 70-57 Jazz.

The fourth quarter was mostly a return to the first half, when the Hornets settled for jumpers, played bad defense inside, and seemed strangely apathetic in a game of such importance.

Chris Paul

In the pre-game, Monty said “I wouldn’t want to play against him tonight.” referring to fire Paul would likely feel after the scoreless performance Paul put forth last night against Memphis. In a sense, he was right. Although Paul’s performance was far from what was needed for a W, he did out-play the rest of his lowly teammates.

It’s sad in some ways, watching him play his heart out to no avail. You can see the frustration on his face in the fourth has he got way up to grab a defensive rebound, without another Hornets player in sight. He slammed the ball to the floor repeatedly throughout the game, generally after making a play that he shouldn’t have had to make. That stuff wears on guys, and the rest of the Hornets had better dammed well be giving it their all if they don’t want Paul to eat their souls.

I will say, however, that it is oddly satisfying to watch the most talented player on the floor also be the one with the most heart. That’s something that you don’t see often enough in sports.

Again Paul didn’t play most of the fourth quarter, and he finished with 15 points on 13 shots, 5 assists vs 2 turnovers, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. If anyone saw a better stat line than that from the Hornets, let me know.

Other Player Notes

  • Willie Green was adequate. I contemplated putting his name in bold, but an average performance that is better than your teammates is still just average in my book. That’s not worth bold. He finished with 12 points on 10 shots, to go with 2 steals and 2 boards.
  • Jason Smith had a decent game, but hitting a few jumpers and grabbing a couple boards wasn’t enough to turn this one around. 12 points on 10 shots and 6 boards. he was also probably deserving of a bold mention, but again- nobody really was tonight. He had two turnovers and a lot of dumb mistakes on defense that resulted in unnecessary Utah points.
  • Ariza remained aggressive, but nothing he put up went in. It’s ok. I much prefer this Ariza to the one from the first 8/9ths of the season.
  • Aaron Gray got rejected three times within two feet of the hoop by players noticeably smaller than he. What is with the Hornets having centers recently who rarely slam it home? On the boards he was sort of great (9 boards in 16 minutes), but they were mostly meaningless. Defensively it wasn’t his night- too many cutters got easy buckets as a result of his poor positioning inside.
  • As usual, Monty played Marco Belinelli just enough to find out which Marco he had tonight. I can’t blame him for keeping Marco on a short leash, since he is either very hot or very cold, and tonight was obviously the latter. Monty gave him another chance in the fourth quarter since nobody was making anything anyway, and despite nailing a long jumper on his first attempt, he missed an open three pointer on the next possession that would have sent momentum back in the Hornets favor. That was the last real chance I saw for the Hornets to stage a comeback.
  • Okafor is giving it his all to make up for the absence of West inside, but just like last year, he seems much less effective when he doesn’t have someone to help him inside. Landry just isn’t the ideal guy to pair with the undersized Okafor.
  • Swingmen Gordon Hayward and CJ Miles torched the Hornets for 32 points on 17 shots. It didn’t seem to matter who was covering them.
  • Nobody guessed the final score right, not surprisingly.

Game Notes

  • Hornets shot 38%
  • Jazz shot 55%
  • Nobody on either side had double digits in either rebounds or assists.

Quotes from Monty’s Postgame Press Conference

  • “Some of it was indescribable”- on tonight’s game
  • “Give credit to Utah.”
  • “It’s not an 80-game season. You have to get yourself ready to play 118 games. It’s an art, and men have to do it, and tonight I didn’t see the focus and tenacity that we needed.”
  • Look, all those teams are probably going to finish with 55 plus win. San Antonio is at 61 right now, so you’re not gong to play against a JV team” – referring to the top four teams in the Western Conference Playoff race.
  • “This was disappointing tonight, to say the least.”
  • “When we’re defending it makes the offense much easier, and we didn’t defend tonight.”
  • Listen to it here- WS600005

It’s so weird ( I’ve been told we are the only team in the league that does this) that Gerry V (who asks pretty good questions) gets 6 questions in the postgame, and then everyone else gets 1 or 2 total, and then it’s done. I really did have a question tonight about what Monty said at halftime to get the guys playing so aggressively after the break. Had I known, I would have used that knowledge to be more aggressive in my question asking in the future. Now, I am stuck not knowing how to be aggressive, and lack the aggressiveness to learn how to be aggressive! It’s a hard life.

And cheer up, Hornets nation. We still made the playoffs, and we still have a chance to see whoever it is that you want to face in round one.


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