Hornets-Mavericks Game 4: What to watch for

Published: April 27, 2008

I'll keep this one short and sweet. There's really only one key to the Hornets rebounding from their Game 3 loss to the Mavericks and grabbing a win in Game 4: All they need is for Chris Paul and David West to make the shots they normally make.

Chris Paul and David West need to knock down their open looks on Sunday

That didn't happen on Friday, when Paul and West went a combined 10-of-38 from the field. The Mavs put Jason Terry on CP, and had him duck under the Hornets' screens and let Paul shoot jumpers if he wanted to. Paul can hit those jumpers, and he has hit those jumpers, but they wouldn't drop for him in Game 3. I'm not sure Dallas will be so lucky two games in a row.

The story was similar for West on Friday. He got a bunch of open looks in the game, but he couldn't knock them down. He's usually lethal with that mid-range game, and that often helps open up his dribble drive so he can get some points in the paint. With the 17-footer misfiring for him in Game 3, guys like Dampier, Bass and Nowitzki could afford to step off a little and not allow those drives to the hoop. As with Paul, Dallas will be lucky if West suffers through a similar shooting performance in Game 4.

Even the Mavs themselves realize that their defense wasn't the main cause of the Hornets problems in Game 3. Words from Avery Johnson and Jason Terry afterwards…

  • Johnson: "We didn't shut down Paul. He missed a lot of shots."

  • Terry: "They just missed some shots they were hitting at home… they just missed some shots they usually make."

As for defense, I don't think the Hornets need to make many adjustments for Game 4. After all, they did hold the Mavs to just 42.7% shooting from the floor, which ain't half bad. The fouling does need to stop though. 38, 39 and 38 free throws given up to the Mavs in the first three games. Not good. The Hornets will have to play smarter and tougher on D and forget about the refs. Also, our guys could definitely do a better job defending the Dallas fast break, but those running opportunities should be fewer for the Mavs if the we can avoid another horrible shooting night.

So, all the Hornets need to do to win Game 4 is come out a little more aggressive, hit the shots they normally hit, give Tyson Chandler a dose of Valium so he doesn't get any more technicals, and be a little more savvy inside to get more boards and avoid the dumb fouls. Do that, and we'll be welcoming the team back to New Orleans with a chance to advance in Tuesday's Game 5.

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