Game On: Hornets @ Thunder
Hornets walk into OKC as David, looking to slay Goliath.
One eye on the game and one eye on Twitter as we wait for news to break concerning Eric Gordon’s possible extension. Wait, that means we need a third eye to watch the T’Wolves fall hard to the Mavs. What, oh what, is a Hornets fan to do? Yes, I know that it is hard to focus on a game that looks like a blowout on paper when the future of the franchise hangs in the balance, but we must do our damnedest!
Keys to the Game
1. Front line must dominate
In the last matchup, Kaman and Landry led the team in scoring with 17 each and Emeka was the only starter to shoot over 50% from the field (5 for 7). Conversely, the foursome of Ibaka, Perkins, Collison, and Mohammad scored just 16 points combined and only pulled down 13 boards. The Hornets ability to win that matchup kept them in the game all night and the same must happen tonight.
2. Ariza has to earn his paycheck
The Hornets did not have Ariza in the first matchup and Kevin Durant took advantage, lighting the Hornets up for 29 points on just 17 shots. Trevor showed that he is more than capable of shutting down elite scorers since returning from injury, as he put the clamps on both Rudy Gay and Kevin Martin last week. Durant is a different beast, however, and he really gets a lot of 50/50 foul calls (especially at home). Durant is going to get his points, but hopefully Ariza keeps him off the line and forces him to use some extra possessions to get his 25.
3. Win the turnover battle
The Hornets have the right pieces in place to contain the Thunder offense in the half court, but Oklahoma City is exceptional in the open court, and the Hornets simply can’t give them easy points. In the last game, the Hornets did a decent job in protecting the ball, and as a result, the Thunder only scored 10 fast break points. They have to do the same thing tonight to have any shot of stealing this one.
4. Make a freakin’ three!
One for sixteen in the last meeting. 1 for 16. I for XVI. I dont know how many ways I can write it, but it has to be repeated over and over again. How can a professional basketball team fare so poorly from behind the arc? If the Hornets would have just hit their season averages of 27% on 3’s and 74% from the line (which are horrific by the way), they would have won the last game. C’mon, I’m not asking for a Jason Kopono performance here, just don’t give me Jason Voorhees.
5. Extend Eric Gordon
Giving Gordon an extension will bring an energy to this team that will result in increased intensity and focus, renewed passion, and…. Okay, who am I kidding? That won’t do anything on the court- I just want to see this thing get done and I am reaching for straws at this point.
News and Notes:
– Vegas Zone: Line opened up at OKC -14.5 but has been bet all the way down to -12.5. Betters in the know realize this Hornets team simply does not get blown out. Yes, they are 3-14, but they were in every one of those losses with the exception of two- and those two were the only games they lost by more than 10. Odds say Hornets cover. And if you really have some cajones, the Hornets money line is +800. Safest bet, however, is to take the under (set at 184).
– Timberwolves travel to Dallas tonight, who are still without Dirk, but do feature 2002 Shawn Marion. Seriously, Marion has been playing out of his mind lately and people who have counted Dallas out already (like our own Ryan Schwan) might look foolish come May. I hate saying it, but I am a Mavs fan tonight, and will be a Spurs fan on Friday, Lakers fan on Sunday. Oh, T’Wolves, the things you make me do for ping pong balls.
– Nick Collison might not be able to go tonight for Thunder, which is actually a big blow for that team. Collison isn’t a sexy player, but Thunder fans will tell you how valuable he is to this team, as he often leads that team in +/- and is the dirty work guy for that squad.
– Finally, I will share my personal thoughts on the EG extension. First of all, I don’t want to read another article about how Stern is too meddlesome. The guy did a great job getting us maximum value for CP3 and there is nobody I would rather have steer this negotiation right now as a Hornets fan. The Hornets have all the cards here, make no mistake about it. For Gordon to leave, he would have to play for 5.1 million next year and leave an additional year and 22 million on the table after that. And that is best case scenario- a scenario in which he is healthy and gets a max offer from a team 17 months from now.
If the Hornets can get a good price on Gordon (4 years, between 50 and 54 million), then it is worth it for them to get it done now. If not, there is no harm in letting it play out.