Hornets End a Fantastic Season With a Loss to the Lakers

By:
Published: April 28, 2011

The Hornets season ended today in uninspiring fashion, as they fell apart early in the fourth quarter yet again against the Lakers, losing 98-80. The loss ended hope of extending what can only be described as a successful season. The crowd showed their appreciated with a late game chant of “Thank You Hornets”, well after the game was out of hand.

Heading into this year it was expected that Chris Paul would leave, and that the Hornets would miss the playoffs. Once they got in it was expected that they would be just a cake-walk for the reigning champions.

Instead we got to see a full season of Chris Paul, who proved that his knee injury is not as hobbling as many thought it would be. We witnessed a Hornets late season push to secure a postseason spot despite the presence of their leading scorer. Then we got to see the team take the Hornets to six games, which were all competitive for the majority.

Halfway through the season there was more for Hornets-Nation to get down about. We faced an attendance problem that threatened the future of the team, along with an unprecedented ownership situation that saw the team sold to the NBA. We heard there were offers from billionaires to move the team as well. Fun stuff, right?

We got together and beat the attendance mandate, showing the true grit and determination of New Orleans. We made it clear to the NBA that we can and will support a quality franchise, and they took notice, turning down offers to move the team. We proved to potential local owners (*CoughCHOUESTBUYTHETEAMALREADY*) that this is a viable NBA market with a business community willing and able to financially support the team.

Overall this season was a great success, and the foundation has been laid for a team that could actually contend as soon as next year. If you look at what happened this season and see anything but success, you weren’t paying attention the whole time.

Before we get started I just want to thank you all for being part of the season with us here at Hornets247. From watch parties to summer league and everything in between, we have loved every second of it. Over the summer we are going to upgrade tons of stuff, including the forum, content management, and more, and boy are you going to be impressed. I know this because our suggestions will come directly from you.

For now, though, let’s talk about the game.

Let’s start the recap with a little bit about Chris Paul, who will probably receive some flack from the haters for “Lebron-ing” it. Early on he wasn’t pressing too much and only wound up taking two shots in the half. The reason? LA was all over his grill, double teaming nearly ever possession, and at the very least leaving a help defender close.

With his teammates not hitting much and unable to create anything except mostly poor shots for themselves, Paul was left with the choice of beating double teams and trying to find tiny openings to shoot, or passing to teammates. He chose the latter, and I can’t blame him. I firmly believe that if the game had been close late, he would have had the energy to find those seams and get those shots. He can’t win the entire game by himself, but he can win the the last six minutes. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to show us.

The Game

Early in the first quarter the Lakers were just pounding it inside, feeding Gasol and Bynum repeatedly in an effort to exploit what should have been their biggest advantage all series. Again Pau just couldn’t find a bucket. It’s strange seeing a guy I previously thought of as the best power forward in the league just completely out of his element against opponents that he should dominate.

Bynum on the other hand did everything LA asked of him. He was 6-9 with 12 points 7 boards and a block with 10 minutes left to go in the first half. Fortunately for the Hornets, Okafor had decided a few minutes before that he had seen enough. He got physical, bodying up Bynum with more intensity than I’ve seen from him all series, and the result was an uptick in the Hornets energy both on and off the court. Bynum got frustrated, committed a dumb foul, and was largely ineffective the following four minutes.

When Gasol replaced Bynum, Okafor continued his relentless defense, keeping a hand in his face and pushing him out of the paint before he fully received the ball. That’s something that it would have been nice to see in games two, three, and five. It might have had something to do with the game being seemingly less high pitched in the first half (there were only 18).

Despite Okafor’s efforts inside, and the team’s success in stopping the Lakers normally potent offense, the Hornets still trailed 40-34 at the half. Too many times the ball was left in the hands of a Marco Belinelli or a Trevor Ariza with six or seven seconds left on the shot clock, and nothing going on. Chris Paul was relatively invisible as the Lakers regularly double teamed him. Regardless, he could have done more, but seemingly chose not to.

Paul came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, but the relentless double teams continued to cause trouble for him. Making matters even more difficult, Emeka Okafor picked up his third and fourth fouls early in the third quarter and had to head to the bench. That was big, as Pau Gasol had started finding his groove against the much smaller Landry. Gray replaced Okafor inside, but when Emeka is playing well Gray can’t replace his production on either end.

With eighteen minutes to go in the game and a timeout on the floor, the Hornets trailed 52-42, and the crowd had been noticeably silenced. Coming out of the timeout the fans were brought to their feet, but the Hornets offense was again out of sync. In a long series against a solid defensive team, it’s hard to create offense time and time again when your scheme is almost entirely based around one guy creating for everyone else, especially if guys aren’t hitting their open threes, and at that point the team was 0-6.

Just as things were looking bleak, Willie Green decided to show up and hit a few big shots to keep things in it, but the frontcourt of Jason Smith and DJ Mbenga was too much for the Hornets defense to overcome. The duo played the Lakers to a draw for the closing four minutes of the third quarter thanks to the Hornets offense kicking it up a notch, yet in the fourth quarter LA’s bigs just did what they wanted. Before Monty subbed the two out, it was a 17 point Laker lead, and the game was essentially over.

It’s not that Smith or Mbenga played poorly, in fact both had good moments, and overall they really were pretty decent. The problem is, the Hornets needed more than decent at that point.

Game Notes

  • Blue Shirts with “Beat LA” on the front adorned each and every seat in the arena, including media seats off the court.
  • Right off the bat the Hornets fans were were into it (thanks to the Bee Zanies) screaming their patented “Bee-fense” chant. Overall the intensity was somewhere between games three and four. Good, but not fantastic.
  • The Hornets production staff really did a great job with the videos and in game bits. I especially like the “bandwagon fan cam”, which followed a skit involving four people from New Orleans, three of which were rooting for the Hornets. The Hornets fans were ripping on the bandwagoner. Afterward, the cam captured the lowest of the low- Lakers fans who live in New Orleans.
  • Marco thought he was going to get hot again early but in the first quarter he was anything but. Frankly I’m surprised he was left in the game as long as he was to start off because he was ice freaking cold and his defense was hardly inspiring. Overall it wasn’t a horrible game by Marco, but the team needed more. I think he knew it.
  • Why do so many Lakers fans wear sunglasses inside? Are they rolling at a Hornets game? Did they bring their legalized “medicine” and can’t handle the rather dim lighting in the stands? Does anyone have a better answer?

Thanks for the awesome season, everyone.

Oh, and it’s my birthday in two hours. I didn’t get what I wished for…

Seriously, thanks for being part of this with us. You guys make every second I spent following the Hornets this season totally worth it. Can’t wait to do it again next year.

2011-2012 starts tomorrow at Hornets247.com

Check out Hordan’s post, What the Hornets Got From This Season

82 comments
lancebrou68
lancebrou68

accounting major bout to be a sophmore

lancebrou68
lancebrou68

yo 42, u mike joe and ryan gotta promise me yall gon constantly be on during the off-season yall are what keeps me goin while im in school

paul
paul

If there is a get together in NO this summer, I might be up for a drive or flight down. Busy in june/july getting kids transfered to schools and houses, but it can be done in the middle. Let me know if there is a draft/trade party at a pub. Paul Pellico

sundance
sundance

It was by chance that I came to your site at the beginning of the season because I followed Marco from the Raptors to the Hornets, but I'm very glad that I did. I appreciate the diversity of opinion, how intelligent this community is; it really made me realize how little I really know. Looking forward to next season guys.

sweetjazz3
sweetjazz3

Basically agree with Paul that we can't be satisfied with a "moral victory" against the Lakers. Give the Lakers credit, they played good basketball the last five games of the series, but we have to get better to be able to compete with them. That said, the season was still a tremendous success. There were a lot of great moments and the team gave a great effort throughout the whole season. Tough seeing DWest go down like he did, he's given so much to this franchise. The character of this team is tremendous ... I am proud to be a Hornets fan and support this group, that played hard on the court and has done a lot off the court for our community. Who knows how bad the collective bargaining will get this summer, and if/when the season will start. There will be roster changes in the offseason. But there is not a single guy on our current roster who I won't be happy to cheer for next season. Sure, all of our role players could use an upgrade in at least one skill area, and we need to keep improving our roster if we want to improve on this season's success, but I'm in with this team no matter what. Let's go Hornets!!

NolaHog
NolaHog

I still can't get the taste of last night's game out of my mouth. To have tied the series 2-2 and then come out and lay two massive eggs like we did. . . it's just inexcusable. I think the 3 straight every other night games started wearing Chris down, because he looked more like the Chris Paul we've seen during the regular season. However, I think a summer of rest and continued rehabilitation is going to allow Paul to consistently return to his old self next year. All of that being said, the team moved in a positive direction this year. A very exciting year in regards to all of the drama, twists & turns. You never knew what was going to happen from one week to the next. I don't think it was a fantastic season, because I feel we could have accomplished even more than we did, but I think it was a very reassuring season. I feel confident that if we keep up our current pace, Paul will stay here and try to bring a championship to NOLA. Monty is well respected by the players, but he still has a lot of room for improvement. Dell Demps is THE MAN. My 5 favorite moments from this year (no particular order): 1. The Atlanta/San Antonio massacres 2. The Emeka Okafor screen on Gerald Wallace 3. The win over Memphis at home when we stole the inbounds pass. 4. The David West dunk for the win on the road @ Houston. 5. Game 1 win vs. the Lakers on the road

PeeDee
PeeDee

good season....i wanna see Marcus comeback

BJAH
BJAH

New Orleans - GREAT SEASON! I've got my season tickets for next year and can't wait!!

OtherInfo
OtherInfo

Hey: remember guys: 1. Paul and West are on the NBA team they grew up with. (All 3 parts of the franchise were really young and in North Carolina in the 1980s.) 2. Tyson Chandler is a free-agent. Marcus Thornton is a free-agent. Peja Stojakovic is a free agent. Willie Green's contract has expired. So has Marcus Banks. And David Andersen's (don't think the team will pick up his option) And Carl Landry And DJ Mbenga and possibly Aaron Gray Marco and Jason have qualifying offers. Not included: No Landry or Gray included in this figure or Marco or Smith 12,295,509 Add 3 mil for Landry 2.380,270 mil for Marco 2.187913 mil for Smith (If the above are free agents.)

Scooter
Scooter

despite all the positives this season, every time this happens i'm reminded of how i felt when the hornets got knocked out 1-3 against the bulls in '95 when i was 11 years old and i was depressed for like a week

paul
paul

Thanks so very much for having me. Between this sight and atthhive, I have found some very wonderful people. How I wish I could join 42 (even though I would be affraid to say anything), Nikkoweon, Joe and the crew. Rohan, MrWayne,RyanC,Grayson, CP3forMVP...damn! A;; of you made this ozark mountain fool feel great and welcomed. I came to the Hornets because I followed Gray with the trade and I found a home of these to sights. And hardly anybody made fun of my monkeyman's half brain! Thanks all and keep in touch this summer. I have begun to teach myself how to fish on my lake, so I will be looking forward to some diversion from humility. Paul Pellico

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

I hope we keep the good and say goodbye to the bad in this off-season. The good starters: West and Paul. Okafor. The good bench players: Gray, Jack The good philosophies: Defense first, humble team ball, support for the city and involvement with it, good cash management, team rebounding. The bad players (who still did some things I loved): Mbenga, Smith, Bellineli, Green, Andersen, Ewing. Not bad guys or team players, just not what we need to build a contender. All are far below average in Wins Produced The bad philosophies: Small ball, green light for bad or slumping shooters, perimeter-based offense with inefficient shot selection, Ariza as a 3-point shooter. I would be thrilled if we used some advanced metrics to choose the players we add to the roster. Players that respect themselves and the coach, hustle, play tough, rebound, only take shots they are good at, play defense, and don't turn the ball over. I don't care if they fly through the air, look pretty, or have name recognition. I don't want high-volume inefficient shooters, bad boys, or offense-only guys. Landry and Ariza could be really good players if used properly and integrated fully into the team. Landry needs to rebound and maintain the defense we saw in the playoffs. Ariza needs to shoot A LOT LESS and eliminate his unforced turnovers! We need to commit to Gray by re-signing him and getting him both minutes and touches. He has earned it, Take minutes from the 2-guard spot and shots from Ariza. Let him start some games even where Okafor is healthy. Here comes the obvious one: We need a shooting guard that can consistently shoot for a high percentage and defend. I also want to see a young point guard for Paul to train. Most of all, I want the labor agreement completed with a franchise tag.....

D. Highmore
D. Highmore

Such a heartbreaking loss, but I'm still having trouble getting too down about it. After all, we took the Lakers to 6 and made them fight (almost) all the way, we won 9 more games that last year, we got the old CP3 back at times... I'd have to consider it a successful season, considering all the crap our team's had to deal with.

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

It was a season that nobody expected. We got plenty of injuries, we got some really horrendous officiated matches, with dwest out everybody expected us to be killed and sweeped by lakers but we fought hard, and we tried our best. With a better bench next year (we absolutely need some size, and some scoring from the bench [maybe move belinelli from the bench, because he was good in that situation in the 10-12 games when he was the sixt man, and find another sharp-shooter]), with chris paul, with dwest and landry, with oak, with ariza (who stepped up incredibly in the play-offs), and with the experience of this playoffs, next year we can make some noise out there. im optimistic.

cro_CP3
cro_CP3

I love this team, they fought their way to success, this season was a great success, we should be proud of our team, especially after losing David West, love it, I applaud to the Hornets24/7.com for the good will and determination to bring the news here, organizing various stuff, you're amazing as our coach, our team everything, amazing, we can go only up as 42 said in his article, we all rise together we all fall together, but this team will rise (this season "experts" picked us to fall into the dust, we risen to the playoffs and they predicted a sweep, we fought and gave the cocky mofos Lakers headaches), I think CP3 cried when the standing ovation began, see it on the tape, I was watching here in Croatia at 4:30 AM, and giving a standing O in my room, this was the best season since 07 08, favorite moments were the great start, 11 1, when we beat the Heat, beat ATL and the Spurs like they were dleague teams, beating the Rockets for the playoffs, comeback against the Mavs, CP3's magic nights in March, DWest gamewinner vs the Thunder, and of course CP3's magic vs the Lakers in the postseason, beating all the odds and playing the Lakers in 6 games (imagine if David West played!?), take a bow Hornets fans to this team and awe... Love y'all and I'll contribute to the site as much as I can, I will follow you through the offseason of course...

Archie
Archie

I posted very few times but read the blog daily, and let me say your great, Being in Italy i can't watch at all games (they're televised in the heat of the nigth) so i came here and read about what happened ar listen for what you have to say about the hornets, and I allways found it great, and all this make me want to be in NO with some of you dor share some moments wathcing games together. Besides this and talking about hornets (or as I prefer New Orleans Hornets) great season, as a lot of you have said nobody expected a season like this so, apart a little sadness for the loss, Thank you New Orleans Hornets.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

My thank you cannot be summed up with a comment. I'm making a journal entry :) but i've said my thanks through twitter and im going to say it again. Thank you to the Hornets organization and the way it carried itself. Hopefully a local owner *cough* CHOUEST *cough* CHOUEST *cough* can see that our team is something else and that it can be special. THANK YOU SO MUCH! / MARAMING SALAMAT/ DAKAL SALAMAT/ MUCHAS GRACIAS/ MERCI BEAUCOUP/ and any other language saying THANK YOU!

kempleton
kempleton

It was just sad to leave the arena with a loss. We started to put up a fight but it was too late. I hate to say this but at the end of the first half I told my friend that the game will probably be decided at the end of 3rd and at the beginning of 4th and unfortunately that's what happened in favor of the Fakers, Sorry I meant to say the untouchable Lakers, oops sorry I meant to say the 15-men Laker team. They finished us in the beginning of the 4th just like the 5th game but do they really need that much push from the refs? I don't think so. They were the better team and they did not need that. If one day they receive that kind of treatment from the refs maybe they will understand how frustrating it is. I wish I could watch the game on tape and take a closer look at all the calls... Anyway, with or without the push from the refs Lakers were the favourites and they win in 6. We only allowed them to sweep in their dreams though. This was a great season, we had so many good wins and streaks with a squad full of new people. Let's hope we will get better next season. Just like what OKC is doing these days... Geaux Hornets! Thanks for a great season!

Holy Cow
Holy Cow

While it's disappointing that it ended this way in our house, in time it will be easier to look back and appreciate how this overmatched team fought til the end. I also want to thank the krewe at Hornets247 for this great site. The quality of the content provided by the staff and regular contributors really added to my basketball knowledge and added to my enjoyment of the season. Now that the season is over I might become a little more productive at work (but I'll still be getting my daily fix). Also, it was nice to meet many of the regulars at the playoff watch parties. Happy Birthday Joe. 42 you're the man.

CP3nBrees
CP3nBrees

There are some great signs for the Hornets next year, we know Chris Paul can still play at high level, how great Ariza can be when he's actually trying to attack the rim. If we can re-sign our key players like Gray, Landry, and Beli while adding new pieces, we can make some noise next year. 黃蜂感謝你們一年的陪伴!

ThePurpleHornet
ThePurpleHornet

Sad loss indeed guys, but hey ... almost everyone (including Hornets fans) figured we'd get swept out of the playoffs without Dwest. Although we showed lazyness on the boards at times, I found our little team to be a scrappy little bunch and they made me proud in the post season. We took 2 time defending Champs to 6 games. With all the uncertainty of a 1st year coach, GM, injuries, etc ... I'm satisfied with the season this year. The sky is the limit! On a side note: Just wanted to make it official that the Zanies started the "Thank You Hornets" chant, just realized that it went Arena wide and we think that is the coolest! It's been tweeted about and written about in numerous articles. We meant it too, Thank you to the Hornets Organization and Players for this season, I loved every minute of it. Thanks to Hornets247 also for the watch parties and taking us under your wing all season and giving the Zanies positive press! We love you guys too! Also, awesome meeting a lot of you at the watch parties! Can't wait to do it all again next season!

Rocco
Rocco

God bless you guys! I hope its a glorious summer in NOLA and all around Hornets land. Hornets 247 crew....you've been informative, witty, and always a great read (and/or listen) Beware grizzly bears and dungeons & dragons.. tis the off season. Tanti auguri e saluti a tutti! Ciao.

hornetshornetshornets
hornetshornetshornets

Thanks Hornets and Hornets247! I thought it was really classy the way the crowd gave the team a standing ovation and Thank you chant without being prompted to. My voice never fully recovered from Sunday, but I cheered as loud as I could. Anyways, this year has been a memorable one for all the good and the bad that's happened. We're a resilient fan base, and to all of my fellow fans, I want to say, "Thank you for being so awesome and for all the insight and laughs you guys have given me these past 6 months!"

Bug Marley
Bug Marley

Hornets to the rest of the NBA: BRB.

Ron
Ron

Grammatical questions: "despite the presence of their leading scorer" s/presence/absence/ :) "game being seemingly less high pitched in the first half (there were only 18)." High pitched game? 18 whats? "but the frontcourt of Jason Smith and DJ Mbenga was too much for the Hornets defense to overcome." Too much incompetence for the other 3 players to overcome?

Brazilian Hornet
Brazilian Hornet

Congratulations Hornets! I am very proud of this team! Men of honor!

JNR
JNR

This was my last game in the arena for a long time. I'm moving to Indianapolis this summer. My season tickets were picked back up by my friend, and I helped him pay for them, so even though I won't be here, I'm still in. Thanks so much to the Hornets for a great season, and to this site for giving me a place to talk about my favorite team. I will continue to be in, even though I won't be in the city. Expect me to be one more of the many Hornets fans here who post from around the country and world. Great job, Bees. Nothing to be ashamed for. I'm happy about the future.

kehntangibles
kehntangibles

Good series, and best of luck always to Trevor Ariza (except when he plays us) Lastly, here's to Chris Paul staying in Hornets and the Hornets staying in the Big Easy

Nick Malone
Nick Malone

A season where we had to battle so many stories of doom and gloom and each time, the Hornets found a way to battle through it and shock the doubters and give people a reason to care about this team. Sure, there will always be the people that want to romanticize about CP3 on their team (Knicks fans which I have to deal with every day). Sure, there will be "news" about the Hornets being relocated or the team in peril being owned by the NBA but I'm proud of what this team accomplished this year. This team can do alot of good going forward but everything is uncertain until there is a new CBA in place that can hopefully lock in a player like a Franchise Tag.

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

Not going to comment on the game, lots of mistakes were made. We can chalk it up to the loss column. Really looking forward to seeing what happens next. I feel like with all the expirings we have, we will really get a feel for how good this front office management will be moving forward. My main worry is their misguided affections towards players that aren't worth anything. I have faith now. I'm renewed. Don't let me down. Don't do Marcus2.0. For those that need a little pick me up, Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram. Boom!

504ever
504ever

THANKS to the Hornets and this site. Now let's go sign our six key free agents (D-West, Landry, Green, Belinelli, Gray, and Smith) and pick up a few more players to replace the others.

sweetpea
sweetpea

Anyone who thinks the Hornets are leaving NOLA can kiss my New Orleans-born-and-bred A*S. It may happen but until then, pucker-the-f-up. Thanks to all contributors to 24/7. I've joined late this season but really have learned a lot. Props to Hornets nation and all my brothers and sisters who bleed blue now and forever. My favorite 5 moments this season 5) beating the Heat back in November at the Hive; 4) the destruction of the Hawks in Atlanta; 3) the destruction of the Spurs the next game at the Hive; 2) Jarrett Jack hitting three free throws to cap a miraculous comeback against the despised Mavericks at the Hive with aboout 3 seconds left in the game 1-A) beating the Rockets to assure an improbable post season birth 1) the two victories against the Lakers in the playoffs.

James Online
James Online

Bottom line: Lakers were the bigger, more experienced, polished, aggressive, well-coached team. Their ability to get offensive rebounds, make putbacks, and defend the entire floor so well was simply too much for the Hornets. Inside we pretty much looked like the third graders against the fifth graders. The team has got to get tougher inside. West coming back, if he does, will help, but it's going to take more than that. Very few people thought the Hornets would do as well as they did this year. While fault can be found everywhere, even Chris Paul, by any reasonable standard the Hornets had a very good year. I'll look forward to the bloggers' information and insights on the David West situation, the Paul situation, and the ownership issue. Thanks to Joe, Ryan, and Mac for a first-rate blog experience all year.

andy
andy

was pretty disheartening and disappointing to see Smith and Mbenga on the floor when the game was being decided. I thought rotations in the playoffs were supposed to shrink, and especially in deciding playoff games. Smith is a decent backup, but doesn't matchup well vs the Lakers at all.

lancebrou68
lancebrou68

damn i cant believe its over...i just want to say i love each and every person who contributes to the site and i will continue to support this site. i love this hornets team and will forever be a supporter of the hornets now lets go out there an build this roster back up and contend next year.

mako
mako

That's right - thank you Hornets! And a BIG THANK YOU to all 247 crew. It feels great to be so close to all Hornets news and fans while living so far from New Orleans :) I am rather a viewer of this great site not being active usually but damn those series made me to put some comments. Best regards to all of you! And - happy birthday Joe!

paul
paul

no...not completely correct. Okafor has offensive plays called for him, Gray does not. Whatever offense Gray finds is happenstance or of his own doing. Nothing is set for him. In fact, he played only 6 minutes until another was added at garbage time. This was stupid against the Lakers. I mean, REALLY stupid. Your largest moonster plays 6 minutes? I mean, one night he's a hero, then the next 2 he gets only a pityful amount of minutes. No, sorry...this can't be just brushed over. Very dumb on Coach's part.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

I would have loved to see us dedicate one of the last two games to outrebounding the Lakers, by playing a big lineup with Gray in place of Bellineli. We stayed small, and it never got us even close. I still think Gray contributes more than any of our current 2-guards on an average night. Much more. That said, the Hornets gave us a season with many highlights and things of which we can be proud. I can't wait for the next season, even if it isn't next season....

Mark
Mark

Couldn't be at the arena, but "thank you Hornets"