Hornets Guards Not Named Chris Paul Struggle in Loss to Lakers

Published: April 22, 2011

*Something sad here*

The Hornets fall apart late and lost to the Lakers 100-86 in a game they desperately needed to win. It was a struggle for the Hornets all night long, but they managed to stick around for nearly the entire game. It wasn’t until Chris Paul left the game down 10 with eight minutes left that things really got out of hand. Two minutes later the Bees were down 14, and that was that.

On the bright side, even with Bynum owning them, Gasol playing more like himself, Kobe being Kobe, and nobody going off for New Orleans, they still kept themselves in position to compete in the fourth quarter. Considering how many things could have gone better, I feel confident heading into game four. You, and the Hornets, should also feel good. This team leaves it all out there, and there’s no reason to be embarrassed by the effort tonight against a team most are still picking to win the NBA title. The result? Sure, but not the effort.

This one started off as a high energy affair, with deafening cheers from the home crowd and softer, but still audible, cheers for the Lakers. Unfortunately, the hometown support wasn’t enough to help contain Andrew Bynum. Emeka Okafor stayed on the floor long enough to give it a shot this time, but it’s just a bad matchup for him. As it was, Bynum and Gasol were enough inside to make things very easy for the rest of the Lakers, who were left for open threes early and often. They shot 7-16 from behind the arc, compared to only 2/13 for the Hornets.

In the first quarter the Lakers shot 68.4 percent from the floor compared to a mere 42.3 for the Hornets. The problem was in the paint, and nothing Monty threw at the Lakers seemed to stop them from working their offense inside out. It continued all night long, just as Phil Jackson planned.

Ariza played an interesting first quarter, taking nine shots and coming up with two steals. It was about as active as I’ve ever seen Trevor in a quarter, but he settled for a couple long jumpers that really prevented it from being particularly successful. Even though he personally played some nice defense early on while guarding Kobe, the Hornets overall were still were clueless on defense and trailed 30-23 at the end of one.

Throughout the second and third quarter the Hornets just hung around. That’s really the only way to describe it. Every time it looked like they would get close, the Lakers had a little run to get the lead back around 10. Every time the Lakers threatened to pull away, the Hornets started making shots. It was just back and forth and back and forth for both the middle quarters

Guards not named Chris Paul

I mentioned in the preview that the Hornets would need one of these guys to step up and make some shots in order to allow him the space he needs to be magical. Apparently they didn’t get the memo. Through 42 minutes (Hornets were down 14 at the time), the trio had combined to go 3-16, including 1-6 from three point land (all courtesy of Marco). It wasn’t because they were focusing particularly hard on defense or rebounding, either.

To put the blame for this game on the shoulders of these three really isn’t a stretch. We all knew that Bynum would be big inside, and that Kobe would get his, but the guards completely disappearing was something that the team just couldn’t game plan for. Getting absolutely nothing was just too much of a hole for the Hornets to overcome, and inevitably what I blame the loss on. When it was all said and done the trio combined for 7 points on 18 shots, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 55 minutes.

What can I possibly say about this that they don’t already know? Play better? Make open shots? Be aggressive on the boards?

I guess all of those things will do.

FWIW- Jack, more than the other two, was furious with himself and his performance both on and off the court.

Chris Paul

If there were any lingering doubts that Chris Paul is still Chris Paul, they were seemingly put to rest in the first half. Right off the bat he literally willed his team to stay in the game. When things started looking like the Lakers would pull away early, he attacked. Every time it seemed like the Hornets were going to go through a cold streak on offense, he attacked. Every time anyone looked at him funny, he attacked.

It was a complete reversal of roles for Paul, who normally starts off slowly and then gets his scoring going in the second half. Frankly if he didn’t do it, the Hornets were going to have a very hard time hanging around even as long as they did. Everyone else was off. He finished the half with 18 points on 10 shots, 3 assists vs 4 turnovers, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals. The rest of the team managed only 24 points on 30 shots.

So what’s the problem? In the second half he took three shots total en route to scoring only four points.

Right off the bat in the third quarter he went back to being his usual distributing self, save for when the Hornets really needed a bucket. He had five assists in the third quarter, and was truly getting everyone involved. He ran a pick and roll with DJ freaking Mbenga. How many times did that happen during the regular season? Once?

One one hand the Hornets cut the lead down to only seven at the end of three, but sometimes I feel like Paul gets so focused on distributing that he takes himself out of a shooting rhythm. We didn’t get to see if that would be the case tonight since the game was never close late enough to really see what CP3 would do at home in the clutch. You could tell he wanted the chance to show us, and his postgame comments revealed just how upset he is about this loss.

When it was all said and done he had a pretty nice performance minus the uncharacteristic turnovers (5). He wound up with 22 points on 13 shots to go with 8 assists, 5 boards and 2 steals.

Andrew Bynum

He was truly the story of the night for LA, and the reason that they were able to hold onto a lead for the entire game. In the first half he set the tone for the Lakers inside, grabbing 9 boards and scoring 14 points on 10 shots. The Hornets threw Okafor, Gray, and even Mbenga at the big man, but nobody had much of a chance other than Gray who sat the entire second half with what is presumably a bum ankle. Bynum utilized his extra inches over Okafor and Landry to grab multiple rebounds with the tips of his fingers, and had no trouble turning them into easy buckets once he did.

Even with Pau playing merely average, the interior advantage was devastating for the Hornets. LA owned the boards and time and time again ball wound up in the hands of the Lakers front court. Through three quarters the Lakers out-rebounded the Hornets 34-26.

Other Notes

  • Ariza followed his frantic first quarter with three more. He finished with 12 points on 13 shots, 12 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Another nice performance wasted.
  • Quincy got some time, but he’s too inexperienced and just not physically there yet. He wasn’t awful but he looked unsure of himself with the ball and wound up going 0-3 in about five minutes.
  • Aaron Gray had five decent minute early on, but Monty sat him the entire time after that. I’m guessing it was the ankle.
  • During the 7-up Shooting Thing, the fan made a layup, then a free throw, then a three pointer, AND THEN THE HALF-COURT SHOT. Free 7-up for a year. Let the burping ensue.
  • Carl Landry continues to play alright, but remains too small to effectively rebound with the Lakers bigs. He’s not a great rebounder to begin with, so his disadvantage is really magnified when he goes against guys who are bigger and better rebounders than he. Landry also continues to be the only Hornet to not fail miserably at free throws, making 11/12 of his. The rest of the team was 7/12. That’s pretty good, right?
  • Marcus Thornton AND Julian Wright were in attendance waving yellow shirts and genuinely rooting for the Hornets. Nice to see that. They both seem to hold a special place in their hearts for the team, even if the feeling isn’t mutual.
  • Hornets fans owned LA’s tonight, even if the result of the game wasn’t ideal.

A special note to LA fans- If you were one of the ones chanting M-V-P for Kobe after the game was clearly won, then you’re a giant bag of douche. You can be a good fan and not act trashy while doing it, but apparently not if you’re a fan of the Lakers on the road. I would be embarrassed if Hornets fans did that somewhere else in the same situation. Truly embarrassed.

(insert joke from a Lakers troll about the Hornets being embarrassed by their play here)

That’s all, folks. My charger isn’t working and this thing is running on fumes. Have a good night.


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