Game On: Blazers @ Hornets

Published: November 13, 2010

The Hornets go for 8-0 tonight as the Blazers come to town fresh off a loss last night to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Blazers are 3-3 on the road this year and might have weak legs on the second night of a back-to-back. Every Blazer starter played 32 minutes or more last night, and 4 of the 5 played 35 minutes or more, including LaMarcus Aldridge who was on the court for 39 minutes. The second night of a back-to-back might be especially troubling for Portland star Brandon Roy, whose left knee has been the story of the week for Blazers fans.

This matchup is also huge for head coach Monty Williams, as he will be facing his former team for the first time since accepting the position of Head Coach this summer. Prior to this season, Monty spent five years on Nate McMillan’s staff in Portland and cites McMillan as both a mentor and a close friend. While Monty will say all the usual stuff about this being “just another one of 82”, don’t buy it; this one means a little extra.

On the injury front, the Hornets are clean and Roy is expected to play despite the pain in his knee. Portland has been without Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbella all season, and in fact, they just recently signed ex-Hornets center Sean Marks to back up Marcus Camby.


Starting Guards

Andre Miller/Brandon Roy vs. Chris Paul/Marco Belinelli

On the season, Miller and Roy are combining to average just under 33 points and 11 assists per game. Miller has surprisingly been more effective than Roy this season, posting a PER of 20.9 (to Roy’s 17.9) and hitting 45.5% of his field goal attempts (to Roy’s 42%). Roy’s stats are down across the board and many attribute that to his knee, which has made him less explosive. He has not attacked as much this year and has instead stayed primarily on the perimeter, which is also the reason his assists are down.

Chris Paul is in the discussion for early season MVP and has been perhaps the biggest reason the Hornets are 7-0 so far. While his stats might not seem as impressive as they were in 07-08 or 08-09, Chris Paul has simply taken over “winning time.” Chris Paul has played every single minutes of Clutch Time(CT) this season- which is defined as “4th quarter or OT, less than 5 minutes left, neither team is ahead by 5 or more.” The numbers are absurd:

Off Eff: 135.6  Def Eff: 71.0 Net/48: 64.6

Basically that means that if the Hornets played the entire game the way they do in Clutch Time, they would win 136-71. They are crazy efficient and it starts with CP3. In crunch time he shoots 100% from the line, averages nearly a point per minute (45 points per 48), and has only turned the ball over 2 times- one of those being the horrible charge call against Miami! Basically CT= CP3.

Marco has been up and down offensively this season, but has really stepped up his game defensively. With Roy being hampered by the injury and coming off a back-to-back, Belinelli should be able to contain Roy for the most part. Offensively, 80% of Marco’s shot attempts have come from outside, but it might benefit him to attack the basket more under the circumstances.

Advantage: Push

Starting Frontcourt

Nicolas Batum/LaMarcus Aldridge/Marcus Camby vs Trevor Ariza/David West/Emeka Okafor

While Brandon Roy’s numbers are down across the board, Nicolas Batum is enjoying his best year in the NBA so far, averaging 14 PPG on 52% shooting. Despite signing Wesley Matthews to a big free agent deal, Batum’s minutes have actually gone up and he has been given an even bigger role in the Portland offense. Batum is deadly from three, and likes to hang out in the corner for wide open opportunities. I am sure Monty will be in Ariza’s ear today telling him all about Batum’s game, as the two worked closely together the past two seasons.

LaMarcus Aldridge always seems on the cusp of becoming an All-Star, but never quite breaks out. He is the Blazers second leading scorer and rebounder at 17.5 and 8.5 respectively. He leads the team in MPG at just under 39, as the loss of Oden and Pryzbella has taken its toll on Camby and Aldridge, who have both been forced to play big minutes so far this season.

Marcus Camby leads the team in rebounds and blocked shots, but has been suffering recently from migraine problems. Offensively, nearly all of his points come in the lane on put backs or dunks, as he is wandering away from the basket far less to shoot those awkward looking 17 footers than he did in his Denver days.

The Hornets front line has blended together well this season, and the combination of West and Okafor has been especially efficient on the offensive end. West is shooting 52% from the field, which is amazing because 81% of his shots are jumpers. Meanwhile, Okafor is averaging 1.96 points per shot in a league where 1.2 PPS is considered good.

Ariza, like Belinelli, has been up and down offensively as well. The one place Ariza does excel, however, is during crunch time. He is shooting 57% from the field in crunch time versus 34% from the field during all other minutes that are not Crunch Time minutes.

Advantage: Hornets


The Blazers have basically been using a nine man rotation, bringing Wesley Matthews, Jeff Pendergraph, Armon Johnson, and Rudy Fernandez off the pine. Meanwhile, the Hornets have been using their entire bench in nearly every game and have produced some odd 5 man combinations throughout the young season. The staples off the bench, however, have been Willie Green and Jason Smith who came over from Philadelphia. Jerryd Bayless is coming off his first big game against the Clippers and hopes to shine against his former team. The X factor could be Marcus Thornton, who could see minutes if the Blazers go small.

Advantage: Hornets

Final News and Notes:

Big props to Dariusz Ejkiewicz, who designed the game banners you see up top. Great work Dariusz. The guy does amazing design work, so if you or anyone you know are in need, check out-

Hornets started off as 4 point favorites, but have since moved up to 4.5. The over/under is 188.5 and so far 83% of people have been betting the under.

Last season the Hornets were 1-2 against the Blazers, but 0-3 against the spread. The Hornets were 3.5 point favorites in the lone win against Portland last year- an exciting game in which New Orleans walked away from with a point victory.

Tickets are still available, including the 7-Up Friends and Family 4 pack for $99. The Hornets are going for a franchise record 8-0 start, so if you are in the area, get out there and support the team!


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