Game On: Hornets @ Lakers (with Watch Party and Live Chat!)

Published: April 20, 2011

The Hornets and Lakers take the floor tonight, and quite frankly, nobody is giving the Hornets a shot to win this game. Few, if any, even thinks the Hornets keep it close, as evidenced by a bevy of “experts” predictions and a 12 point line in Vegas. The prevailing wisdom is that the Lakers came out flat and disinterested, while the Hornets had the game of their life. Fans and writers have said that the Hornets got the benefit of the doubt from the refs due to Stern’s manipulation and that the Lakers just didn’t hit shots they normally make while New Orleans was hitting everything.

To which I say: What game were you watching?

Yes, the Hornets played fantastic basketball for several stretches of the game, but there is much that they can improve on going into Game 2. As Chuck would say, they could “make their, make their, make their, make their free throws.” Forget free throws, maybe in this game Trevor Ariza could set a lofty goal of hitting 40% of his shots- and reach it!

Does anybody really think that the Hornets best defensive player, Emeka Okafor, will only get 22 minutes again and/or grab just 2 rebounds? And how about we flip that around. Anybody expecting another 60 foot Artest heave to drop? The truth of the matter is that both teams are capable of playing better, and quite frankly, both teams are also capable of playing worse. The key to this game will come down to the adjustments that each coach makes going into this game and how well they are able to adjust as the game progresses.

Speaking of adjustments, here is a fantastic article from our friends over at the ESPNLA Land O’ Lakes blog talking about the Lakers adjustments. While there is a lot of truth in what they say, the X factor is that the Hornets are unlikely to come into this game having just stood pat, satisfied with how they played in Game 1. There are several adjustments to be made on their end as well, both reactively and proactively. They are as follows:

1.) Adjust to the adjustments

Monty Williams has to see the writing on the wall and anticipate how the Lakers are going to come out tonight. From everything the Lakers have said since the Game 1 loss, I would be shocked if Kobe came out shooting tonight. More likely than not, the Lakers are going to try and get their bigs involved early, and if the Hornets anticipate this, they can use it to their advantage. Cheat off of Kobe and Artest early on in the game, encouraging them to become shooters. Think about how frustrated we become when CP3 tries too hard to get others involved early in the game and passes up quality looks. Why not back off of Kobe early on and make him choose the lesser of two evils: Do I throw the game plan out the window and just shoot or do I stick with it knowing that the bigs will not get the quality looks I can get right now?

On the offensive end, you know that the Lakers are not going to switch a big onto CP3 and that they will be running multiple people at him from all different areas. The Lakers want to get the ball out of his hand and force other guys to beat them. How do you adjust to this, outside of just hoping Marco and Trevor hit their jumpers? By attacking. The Hornets will have a 4 on 3 in these situations once CP3 gives the ball up and the Lakers will be praying for the Hornets to settle for a jumper. Instead, the Hornets have to attack like they did in the 4th quarter of Game 1. Get the bigs into foul trouble and get yourself into an early penalty situation. If the Hornets can get into the penalty with 5 or 6 minutes left in the quarter, CP3 can start trying to split those double teams, get into the lane, etc. and just live at the line.

2.) Get inside Ron Artest’s head

The biggest mismatch for me in this series? Ron Artest by a mile. Kobe is still the best player and Pau is an All-Star, but the Hornets have ways of giving those guys problems, but they have no answer for Ron Artest’s physicality. There was only one player in game one who had double digit rebounds, and it wasn’t one of the 7 footers, it was Ron Artest. Because the Hornets have to put Ariza on Kobe Bryant, they are often stuck with either Jarrett Jack, Willie Green, or Marco Belinelli on Ron Artest. Green is the most well-equipped to get physical with Artest, but even that is a mismatch. Belinelli vs. Artest is just a joke, and Jack is somewhere in the middle.

Ron Artest had five offensive rebounds in game 1 and he could have killed the Hornets all day in the post if the Lakers just kept going to him. Thankfully, they didn’t. I have a feeling, however, that after watching the tape that the LA staff will see how truly great this mismatch is and get him more involved. Honestly, there is no answer for him on this roster unless the Hornets want to shift Landry down to the three. What Marco will have to do is flop, flop, flop, and then flop some more. He did it once in game one and Artest didn’t get back into the post again after that happened. I hate to say it Marco, but you are gonna have to go all Manu on him tonight.

3.) Get Jarrett Jack on the floor more tonight

Jack was great off the bench in the first game, but he only played 22 minutes- mostly because he would have had to guard Artest on defense. Tonight, I think the Hornets will have to bite that bullet, because they are going to need all the firepower they can get and Jack is the best matchup against this Lakers team. With LA set to trap CP3, the Hornets will benefit from having another creator and distributor on the floor when the ball gets swung around. Although I love seeing Trevor Ariza drive hard to the hole and roll the ball to Carl Landry, I would prefer Jack in this role.

Perhaps the Hornets will have to play more zone tonight or maybe they will put Jack on Kobe in this situation, knowing that Kobe is not looking to shoot. Either way, Monty has to find a way to get him 30+ minutes tonight if they are going to do the unthinkable and win two in LA.

Other News and Notes

–  Very few must reads in my opinion, but a recent news article that 42 posted is just that. Perhaps the lowest form of human life writes for the Orange County Register and he took another jab at Chris Paul and the Hornets. It is just sports after all, so that didn’t bother me as much as his earlier work did. Just check it out for yourself, and then send a letter to this D Bags editor. That is all.

– If you are in New Orleans and you didn’t go to the Watch Party for Game 1, do yourself a favor and go to this one. You’ll kick yourself if you miss both. For all the info and video from the last Watch Party, click here. Oh, and did I mention- FREE BEER!

– Just last night I did a radio show called In the Trenches. In just 9 minutes, we hit on everything from the playoffs to Monty to the future of Chris Paul and the CBA. The guy was smart, he just asked me questions and backed off so that my brilliance could shine. If only Ryan could do the same!

– Want to give a shout out to our Journal Contest winner Coughka. Here is his post, a very creative and well done entry. And not to be outdone, Edbballin504 came in 2nd, just one point behind Coughka in our final vote. A great read as well. Edbballin- you got 2 tickets to any game you want next year courtesy of Just let us know when you wanna go.

– And finally, it is that time once again to Cap……That……Pic! No prize unfortunately, but I know that stuff doesn’t matter to you anyway. Let those creative minds go!


  1. Pingback: Lakers 87, Hornets 78: Hornets come back down to Earth. « Swarm & Sting | A New Orleans Hornets Blog

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