Hornets can’t hold on (again) against the Blazers

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Published: February 10, 2012
Portland Trail Blazers 94 Final
Recap | Box Score
86 New Orleans Hornets

Trevor Ariza, SF 46 MIN | 9-18 FG | 5-6 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 23 PTS | -6

Ariza was the only reason the Hornets were in this game. And I don’t mean his offensive output, which was fantastic. In the fourth, Jamal Crawford was smoking everyone and everything he faced. Until Ariza introduced himself. He only scored two points that weren’t garbage time free throws after that.

Gustavo Ayon, PF 27 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | +1

Ayon had pretty awful game tonight. Fouls on screens, fouls on charges, bad pass after bad pass. He’s just not adjusted to the NBA, where players are quicker and longer than anything he saw in Spain. Once he realizes the spaces he has to pass in are that much smaller, I expect his passing prowess to become a nice benefit, not the problem it is now.

Emeka Okafor, C 39 MIN | 5-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -2

Normal game for Mek. Did you know that Okafor isn’t leading the team in blocks? What’s up with that?

Marco Belinelli, SG 33 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -3

Belly was alright. The Hornets have to play him in crunch time to spread the floor. Everytime tonight he put the ball on the floor, though, he got in trouble. Had a couple nice pick and roll passes tonight, though.

Greivis Vasquez, PG 37 MIN | 2-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 6 PTS | -8

Sorry all you Vasquez fans, but tonight was an illustration of all Vasquez’s difficulties. He kept getting trapped along the sidelines and forced into turnovers and bad passes. He kept running pick and rolls over and over on the same possession but never had the speed to turn the corner and make it work. He just doesn’t have the athleticism to be a starter.

Lance Thomas, F 8 MIN | 2-2 FG | 3-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -16

Thomas had a nice eight minutes as an energy guy. Like all energy guys, though, he energized his way into some bad fouls and decisions. Still, he definitely earned more time tonight.

Donald Sloan, PG 11 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | 0

Sloan was the only guard capable of bringing the ball up court against pressure tonight. He handled it well, broke the full-court press several times for easy shots, and had a nice game until he was forced to match up against a hot Crawford and was being drilled. Good first showing, though.

Al-Farouq Aminu, SF 25 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +1

I have to love Aminu’s boardwork. If he ever adds a little more strength and the ability to finish around the basket in traffic, he could be a good garbage-man power forward, cleaning up other peoples trash for easy points. Big three in the fourth, too. If he shot everything with that confidence, he could be a small forward. If, if. if.

Xavier Henry, SG 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -7

Henry was ordinary and had little impact.

Five Things We Saw

  1. The Hornets doubled Aldridge every time he caught the ball with his back to the basket except for a couple possessions in the fourth. With Portland struggling to finish shots on the perimeter, I’d give this strategy the primary credit for the Hornets being in the game.
  2. Gerald Wallace put on a clinic of all the reasons I love his game. Toughness and intelligence. On play after play, he kept cutting to the open space along the baseline. He would do it hard, and quick, and it got him easy baskets over and over.
  3. Kaman was a late scratch. The Portland announcers were speculating that he was being traded. There is nothing out there to support that except for my hopes and dreams.
  4. The Hornets had 17 turnovers. I’ve been so spoiled by Paul for all these years, because I remember being shocked to see that many TOs in the box score. Now, it’s nearly the Hornets average.
  5. Which group shoots better: The Hornets from the perimeter, or Imperial Stormtroopers trying to kill Han Solo?