Game On: Blazers @ Hornets

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Published: March 10, 2013
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In a game that figures to be much different than the two teams’ last game in New Orleans, the Hornets host the Trailblazers tonight in the rubber match of their three-game season series.

About 3 1/2 weeks ago, Portland traveled to New Orleans less than 24 hours after a tough road loss in Miami for the two teams’ last game before the all-star break. The Trail Blazers clearly looked fatigued, only mustering 26 points in the first half as they ended up on the receiving end of the Hornets’ most lopsided victory this season, a 99-63 final. This time, however, the Blazers are fresh off of their most impressive victory of the season on Friday night, a 30 point blowout of the team the league-leading San Antonio Spurs which included a 46 point fourth quarter. Rookie of the Year favorite Damian Lillard was the star of the show, pouring in 35 points on 20 shots to go along with 9 assists and zero turnovers. Being on the second game of a back-to-back, the Hornets will likely be without Eric Gordon, and with Austin Rivers also out with his broken hand, New Orleans will be seriously lacking talent on the wings. Here’s how they can come away with a victory tonight.

 

Three Keys to the Game

  1. Win the long range battle. The Blazers are in the top third of the league in three-point attempts per game, but they are in the bottom third in three-point percentage. Lillard, Matthews, Batum, and Maynor are the only players who shoot above 35% from that distance, and Batum has been playing through a lingering wrist injury which has impacted his jump shooting recently. All that being said, the Blazers are in the fourth best team in the NBA at defending the three, as opponents are only shooting 33.7% from beyond the arc against them. Without Gordon or Rivers, the Hornets will seriously lack any sort of dribble penetration outside of Vasquez, so making three-point shots will be especially important if New Orleans wants to win tonight.
  2. Ball control. The Hornets have gone up against a bunch of teams recently that, like themselves, have a tough time forcing turnovers. The Pistons, Lakers, and Magic are all in the bottom five in the NBA in opponents’ turnover rate, and so are the Trail Blazers. Keep the turnovers to around 10 or so tonight, and the Hornets will have a good chance.
  3. Protect the paint. Only New York and Washington average fewer points in the paint per game than Portland’s 36.6 per game. If New Orleans’ interior defense is strong, it will encourage the Blazers to force up more three-point attempts which, as noted before, they like to take but are not particularly good at converting.

 

In these two teams’ first meeting in Portland, the Blazers hit a last-second shot to win 95-94. Expect a score much closer to that one than the more recent lopsided affair in New Orleans. Should be a good one; enjoy the game!

11 comments
Basketbol
Basketbol

Great these guys are learning how to win during clutch time without the official clutch player

Chuck
Chuck

Darius Miller is playing absolutely incredible right now. He just hit Vasquez for a 3. Up until now I agreed that he probably wouldn't stick in the league, but his bball IQ is so high and he doesn't have any glaring weaknesses, couldn't he be a 3 and D guy, a la (non-fat) James Posey?

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I love his brain. I just hope Monty, etc. can develop him into a nice backup. He'd be a great "do no harm" player who can do the backup version of going off.

jsl05
jsl05

I have somewhat of a bad feeling about this game because we will be outmatched down low and on the perimeter. I hope Davis has a great game and shuts up some of the naysayers. With his improved defense, I'd love to see Austin Rivers match up with Lillard; unfortunately, we can't.

Kumar
Kumar

Man, the Lillard fan boys on reddit have been insufferable.

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

Goals for todays game: 1. Lose 2. Give Davis Starter Minutes 3. Play Anderson at Power Forward next to Davis at Center. We looked great with these two on the floor last game

jsl05
jsl05

I'd also like to see Vasquez play on the wing to see if he's suited for small forward.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Love these goals. Add: Get Darius Miller some minutes and I am on board

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

Agreed. With only 20 games left I would like to see a little more of him