Clippers Slip Past Hornets

Published: April 13, 2013

I don’t even know what to say first, so I’m just going to say bravo to the team. They were overmatched, and though they lost, the took it to the Clippers in an effort that, while flawed, was praise-worthy.

Good job, fellas.

The New Orleans Hornets Pelicans are going to cause some headaches for other fanbases next season.

The New Orleans Hornets lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, 96-93, leaving no solace for fryless fans since the Clippers are locking in the playoffs, effectively spoiling spoiling, other than increased chances in a lottery where the results are of dubious value no matter where a team ends up selecting.

It came down to the little things, in the end. Someone looking at the box score alone might think that giving up 39 in the fourth is what did them in, but that is more of an effect of the increase game pace and the Hornets playing foulsies at the end, with Chris Paul going 6-of-6 from the line in the last 20s. Taking away that exchange, the box score reads 33-25 in the fourth. Still, not good. However, the game is actually four quarters long (funny, that).

Here’s the scoring:

1P M 1P A 1P % 2P M 2P A 2P % 3P M 3P 3P %
Hornets 17 32 53.13% 29 64 45.31% 6 19 31.58%
Clippers 19 28 67.86% 28 52 53.85% 7 26 26.92%

Foulsies had 6 1P makes and attempts for the Clippers, 2 3P attempts, 1 3P make, and 1 2P make and attempt.

In the end, the Clippers sank 2 more free throws and hit an additional 3 while the Hornets hit an additional 2, but before the end-of-game exchanges, the situation was more like:

1P M 1P A 1P % 2P M 2P A 2P % 3P M 3P 3P %
Hornets 17 32 53.13% 28 63 44.44% 5 17 29.41%
Clippers 13 22 59.09% 28 52 53.85% 7 26 26.92%

The Clippers hit 2 additional 3P while the Hornets made 4 more free throws, and both teams made equal 2P makes. The Hornets had more attempts, so their percentage is less, but their offensive rebounding offset that. Since the Hornets were hitting 3P up to the end (forgive Anderson the 56-foot catch-turn-shoot prior to the buzzer), it really does come down to the free throws. Though the Hornets made 4 more than the Clippers (at that point before Paul’s 6-of-6 run at the line), they actually took 10 more free throws to do so. Leaving those points at the line comes down to individual player performance in this case, as there was no strategy in play (hack-a-Shaq or the Ball-to-Paul the Clippers (smartly) employed at the end). Gordon went 7 of 12, Andserson and Aminu each went 3 of 6, Lopez went 3 of 4, and the bench went 0 of 3.

Additionally, the bench scored a total of 10 points in 53 minutes, 0-of-3 from 1, 5-of-12 from 2, and 0-of-3 from 3. 10 points, 15 shots, 30.6 TS%. Nope.

Digging in:

  • Gordon had another good night. His line leaves something to be desired, but he’s playing better and with some intelligent aggression. He’s still a little clumsy and awkward at times, but the guy is trying, and trying hard. His 53.7 TS% is not great, but he got to the line a game-high 12 times, twice as many as the next Hornet and three times as many as any Clipper prior to Paul’s systematic placement on the line to end the game. He was also the only Hornet with a + +/- for the game. There’s hope for Gordon’s game next season, no matter which team he’s on.
  • Aminu had another Aminu game. 7 points on 3 shots, 62.1 TS%, 10 rebounds, leading the Hornets except for Lopez’s recycling of his own misses. It’s just not enough from a starter. He did seem out both outsmart and outgrace Butler of an Anderson assist in the fourth minute of the game. Wow. Oh, he got into some jawing with Paul, resulting in a double-tech. Good job. Don’t take that lip. Better if it was a single-tech, but good job.
  • Roberts has earned a contract, and tonight proved it. I’m glad the Hornets have this guy locked up for next year (partially guaranteed minimum for next season, $788,872, with $50,000 guaranteed . . . fully guaranteed if not waived by July 20) whether to keep him or trade him. He’s come a long way since his jaw-dropping . . . um . . . innocence . . . in his early games. To invoke a much more palatable Blake, he has gone from innocence to experience nicely in his lone season under Monty. Pile that on with the players who have improved here compared to seeing what happened in prior regimes or goes on elsewhere, Roberts is even more exciting since Dell, Monty, and Brian all played into that improvement. This will be a franchise to contend with. Sign it.
  • Lopez is trying and trying on offense. He’s still slow and klunky, but he’s trying. I’m excited to see what he can do after a year of getting away from that Phoenix medical staff that kept him injured for so long.
  • Harris played for 0.6 seconds. The Hornets were on defense. They defended. Good job.

Two bonus pieces.

One, we got a little scoop today on the Pelicans mascot. Not much, but something. A supersleuth told us in an email that there are 3 basic designs being considered. None are as accessorized as Hugo (e.g. antennae and wings). The mascot may have webbing-type wings (my word) like Wile E. Coyote in his flying suit but not as big. It seems to have less of a `case’ and is more suit-like, like this guy. So no more mascot moving his body around his body or pulling in bits of the costume for effect. We have no other details, but I hope it’s not as cartoony as Seymour D. Fair or Launchpad McQuack.

Two, an active reader, mateor, too his family to the game courtesy of Hornets247. This is their story.

I haven’t been to a Hornets game since 2009. In related news, I took my 3 ½ year old son to his very first NBA game tonight. Hornets247 (thanks guys!) got me tickets for the family to go to the Clippers game tonight and we had a great time. I was glad to be able to let my son see the Hornets at the Hive before it is gone forever, even if everyone there was only talking about the Pelicans.

Don’t get me wrong – Hugo was there, the Honeybees were there, Bobby Phills’ jersey was still hanging from the rafters. Everyone was in teal like it was 1993. But season tickets reps and displays for the soon-to-be Pelicans were studded throughout each concourse and they had caricatures of current players on Pelicans t-shirts in the lobbies. It seemed like all anyone was thinking about was the future, the New Orleans Pelicans’ future.

Except for one thing: there was still a game to be played and Chris Paul, of all people, was in the building.

I spent most of Chris Paul’s career literally watching every game. I had a job where, I guess, that was one of the perks. He sure gave us a lot of good times (2008! I miss you XOXOX) and I basically am at the point where I simply bear him no ill will, even if he never seemed totally present after they traded Jannero Pargo. That was weird, right? The only people who should miss playing with Pargo are people afraid of getting passed the basketball. In Chris’ defense, if you make me play for Byron Scott, I am PISSED though, so fair is fair.

One thing hasn’t changed since CP3 left town, though. He looks OLD. For real, he plays like it hurts to run down the court. I guess being the second most naturally gifted player in the whole league (sorry Durant, but it ain’t a knock on your talent since you had to earn that stroke) can still get you wins and MVP votes, even if your knee cartilage is replaced with Big League Chew. He had 17 points and 7 boards tonight along 14 assists, each of which were basically a miracle since the Clippers were ice cold all night long.

For all that, CP3 wasn’t the most important player on either roster tonight. CP3 could flee to Atlanta (or Charlotte, my secret fear for much of his time in N.O.) and the Clips would still have Blake Griffin. They would not be a good team, but the Clippers are rarely that. But with Griffin, at least they would still have a star to sell Kia Sorentos and Black Forest ham sandwiches while contending for 6 seeds. You need some context? There was a 60 year old hoop-head in the row behind me who would shout “He can’t shoot!” anytime Blake Griffin had the ball outside of five feet. But he did the same thing for Chris Paul. Blake hoisted several fifteen footers, CP3 didn’t bother.

Anthony Davis, not even Rookie of the Year, really made an impression on me tonight. Yes, I know I know, he didn’t play. But let me tell you something, even with Eric Gordon finally realizing he needs to play his way out of town, if the Pelicans did not have Davis’ talent to build around, they would be in real, real trouble. Ryan Anderson is the only Hornet that should be starting in this league. And he doesn’t start. There is almost no talent on the Hornets team I watched tonight.

Without Anthony Davis, this is a franchise with literally no hope. But with AD and a potential (ping-pong balls be kind!) top five pick, it’s a different story. I realize that banking on draft picks is a mug’s game, I do. But I get to have five years before I realize I have lost! If we draft Cody Zeller at 8 or whatever, I don’t get even get that. With a good pick, I can convince myself that this year’s guy is the Next Big Thing (Julian Wright could still develop! I hear he and Hilton Armstrong have finally started eating right!)

How about Eric Gordon tonight? He and Eric Bledsoe both looked like guys auditioning for their next team, to me. Bledsoe was pressing Roberts starting at half court but then helping so aggressively that Roberts had a one pass and cut opportunity to score on several occasions.

I haven’t believed that the Pelicans were going to trade Eric Gordon but this increase in energy and PT since the Utah controversy (he and Monty had to be separated on the court, for those not IN THE KNOW) has me officially wondering. Did Eric Gordon really just realize that he is best served by playing his hardest and best each night? If so, he needs a new agent, stat. And a new trainer, PS. He just physically does not look as …fit as he used to. There is a constant slump to his shoulders and I think I could see his ribcage. The scowl you could sense from 50 yards. He used to look like a pit bull but now he kinda looks like he has heartworm.

The Hornets lost this one after holding a 10 point lead in the fourth. They controlled the offensive boards thanks to 8 (yep) from Lopez. But when it came right down to it, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes finally started hitting from deep (the Clippers offense is SO boring, OMG). CP3 did his thing, and boom. They queued the KissCam with a 3 point lead yet two minutes later, it was Good Night Irene.

Midway through the third period, Al-Farouq Aminu drove to the rack but got caught from behind and fouled by Paul and failed to finish. Aminu took exception to something, (being punked? Who knows.) and starting barking at Paul, I guess having not noticed he hasn’t even gotten the hang of a high-top fade yet, let alone basketball offense.

CP3 was in his face like the Arena was still his to defend. Everyone tried to get excited and grab the opportunity to boo but the attempt was stillborn. You could tell the crowd was collectively just uncomfortable backing Al-Farouq Aminu over Chris Paul. I leave it to the gentle reader to decide who that says more about.

Aminu, obviously flustered, nearly dribbled the ball off his own foot while warming up to take his first foul shot, I kid you not. As it rimmed out, I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he would miss the second.

The old hoop head and I said “Ball don’t lie” at the same time as the second shot clanged off the rim, jinxing ourselves and the Hornets for the night. But even with CP3 in the building and Anthony Davis on the bench, all I could think about was ping-pong balls, Pelican blue, and knowing that teal, for better or worse, is going out of style in New Orleans.

Go Pels! Thanks guys.


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