« Game On: Hornets @ Trailblazers
Belinelli and Landry Not Enough as Blazers Edge Hornets
Somehow the Hornets almost pulled out another road victory despite the laundry list of injuries.
Marco got going in the first half in a performance that was reminiscent of some of those games that Peja had during the magical ’07-08 season. He was coming off screens hard and always had one eye on the rim, as he drained 7 out of the 11 three’s that he put up. Meanwhile, Landry looks like he is 110% back as he took apart the Blazers in the paint and on the perimeter in this game. On one jumper in the second quarter, his shot was so pure that the net did not even move as the ball fell through it. But it wasn’t enough, as the Hornets could not overcome the fact that 6 of their 7 best players were injured; eventually falling to the Blazers 99-93.
The Hornets were about as deep as a Miss America contestant speaking on ‘The Iraq’, as they only dressed eight players, rolling out a bench that consisted of 3 guys who players in the D-League this season (Henry, Thomas, and Johnson). Still, the Hornets controlled the game through most of the first half and had the game even with just over 4 minutes to go in the fourth. The Blazers pulled away down the stretch, however, because they actually have a star who is playing. Aldridge’s jumper put the Blazers ahead 91-89 and they kept the lead from that point on.
The Hornets travel to LA next to face the Lakers in an afternoon game on Saturday, and Monty has been hinting at the possibility that Eric Gordon might return for this showdown. The most likely scenario, however, is that Gordon, along with Kaman, Ariza, and Ayon will return to action when the Hornets return home on April 4th against the Nuggets. It might be all hands on deck (minus Okafor) for the month of April, and the rest of the league should be scared of these Hornets once they have 11 or 12 warm bodies for Monty to throw out at them.
Notes and Observations:
– It’s games like this that make you wonder if the Hornets could bring back Landry and Belinelli. Not only did they play well, but two guys who the Hornets want to have bigger roles next season (Aminu and Henry) played rather poorly despite getting big minutes. You want to believe that an offseason and training camp can help these guys grow, but Monty and Dell know what they have with Belly and Landry now, and its their jobs that are tied to the players’ performance.
– Wizards blew another game down the stretch, losing a close on to the Pacers. The Wizards have a much easier schedule down the stretch, but the return of a few key players should make the Hornets a much better team, so the schedule might not be enough to help the Hornets overtake Washington for the #2 spot.
– The Blazers are a mess, but like us, they can get good rather quickly. As of right now, they would have the #4 and #11 picks in the draft. Dump everyone but Aldridge, Batum, the guys on rookie contracts, and the picks and they are in great shape if they hit on their picks. I will never forgive New Jersey for that stupid trade. Why couldn’t they have wanted Ariza instead?
– I am surprised Vasquez finished the game with only 4 turnovers. He started off a little wild, but quickly settled down and he has made the most of his minutes this season. It is only fair to point out that he is 4 years older than Aminu and 5 years older than Henry, but still, he continues to the the guy from the 2010 draft class that has the most potential moving forward.
Its really hard to predict what the Hornets braintrust will do on a variety of player retention issues. At shooting guard, its shaping up to a bit of a dilemma. Gordon obviously is the anchor to the whole roster and he's the top two guard on the team after that I think its very interesting. The latest convetional thinking is that a younger Xavier is what they want with his higher potential cieling when compared to Belinelli. However, Beli among the three is really the best outside threat. Henry and Gordon have similar skill sets and niether is a consistent three point threat. So, goodbye Marco... or maybe not.... has anyone else noticed how Monty has (especially lately) deployed both Marco and Xavier at the same time, often for long stretches. Now, I know this may be due to a lack of healthy bodies and you cobble together units as you must. Still, another option for next season is to Retain Gordon, Belinelli, Henry and Aminou to handle the 2-3s and possibly trade Ariza. Just a thought.
Like your post, Rocco, but would have to disagree with the idea that Gordon isn't a consistent 3 point threat. Last season for the Clippers, he made 106 threes in 56 games, an average of nearly 2 a game; he made threes at a similar rate in 2009-10. His career average from 3-point range is also a respectable 37.1%.
Belinelli has been playing pretty good of late. If you saw how terrible he started, you can see the drastic improvement he has undergone. He's certainly shooting the rock better. Landry on the other hand, needs to be let go. Even before he was injured, he played terrible and will probably never return to way he was two seasons ago. He's certainly not worth the 9$ million that the Hornets paid him for this season. they should cut theuir loses, drop him and focus the future on Jason Smith in the paint.
Don't know about letting Landry go. He's not worth $9 million, but that dude plays so incredibly hard that we should really figure out a way to keep him around as a glue guy. He could be one of the anchors of a very strong bench unit for the next 2-3 years. Also, we can't dismiss Belly's early season play so easily. That dude was horrible for the first 25 games of the season and the lack of production from the SG spot was one of the prime reasons the team started so badly. And he looked fat and out of shape too.
Beli should definately be resigned as a quality back-up SG (hopefully to Gordon). Landry and Kaman have value to this team near term (1+ more years). Maybe just as guys off of the bench, but that is still valuable. Both of them need to take big salary cuts and that may not happen. But what team will offer them more money than we will? And where will we find better back-up bigs, especially in Kaman's case? The problem is playing time for Landry. Let's just say we draft MKG and don't add a PF. Both Smith and Ayon are two years younger than Landry and have a higher ceiling, so you won't invest playing time in Landry. But Landry is not a bad player and he will be in the league for a few more years playing 20 minutes a night. Teams need players like that.
It's not that they could have wanted Ariza, it's that apparently Gerald Wallace, for whatever reason, was on Deron Williams' list of guys he wants to play with and they're trying to get him to stay. Either way, the Nets are stupid. They got 99 problems and a good GM ain't one
The refs certainly had it in for us, especially during the 1st half, calling absurd fouls on us, and swallowing their whistles when Alrdridge knocked over our Forwards. I noticed a distinct lack of perimeter passing and reliance on man-on-man driving to the paint of the same style that JJ used to kill us so often this year. Was that Monty's strategy or bad habit because JJ wasn't there? Also, perimeter defense stunk.
You can't fault these guys for playing hard even undermanned. I will say this though, a healthy Eric Gordon and the rest of the squad healthy is at least enough to be a playoff team. I am fine with the Hornets getting the 2nd or 3rd pick in the draft after realizing that there is no care package in the world to ever get the Bobcats or Wizards to win. Damn thse players that just don't care. Damn Them!