Hornets Beat the Bobcats

Published: December 1, 2010

As expected, the Hornets beat the Bobcats 89-73 before what very well may have been the sparsest crowd since 2007. I’m fairly good at estimating crowd size, and it’s quite possible that everyone in attendance could have fit in the lower bowl tonight. I can’t express my frustration with the crowd issues in writing right now, so I’ll save that for another time. The Bobcats kept it close through the first three quarters, but were eventually just worn out by the Hornets defense and passable offense. The game ended with four of the Hornets starters on the court.

After Monty talked pregame about how the Hornets rarely run plays for Emeka, the Hornets deliberately went to him five times inside in the first seven minutes, resulting in 6 points despite a pair of missed free throws. Among the other notable oddities- Chris Paul hit a spot-up three pointer after a slick Marco Belinelli pass. There was absolutely no defensive intensity, which led to more wide open three point looks than you normally see in an entire game, and oh yeah, there was wasn’t more than a chirp from the crowd. We talk about home court advantage in sports, but right now in New Orleans it’s more like a non-disadvantage.

Okafor would wind up with five boards to go along with his six first quarter points before coming out with three minutes to go. Immediately the Bobcats took it inside successfully, taking advantage of the porous West-Smith front court. I like Jason Smith as much as the next guy, but he’s just not a third big man. He’s an ideal fourth guy because of his energy and skill set, but he can’t rebound and he can’t play defense. Frankly, he’s not going to cut it if this team is going to make a run in the playoffs. He’s too easy to essentially take out of the game. You put a guy on him and that’s that. He’s invisible. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong or call me names in the comment section.

The second quarter continued as the first one ended, with ugly basketball. Both teams were taking lots of long jumpers with time left on the shot clock, and had general struggles with ball movement. All season long the Hornets have had problems moving the ball with Willie Green on the floor, and tonight was no exception. Even adding Jarret Jack to the mix doesn’t seem to have improved that part of the unit. The bench offense is at times strangely reminiscent of the Byron-CP3 offense we witnessed for so long, but with instead of Chris Paul running it, we have two less talented players. That said, Green plays very well with Chris Paul and tonight did a little of everything. He finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block.

Even when Paul entered the game, the teams just continued to trade inadvertent nudges. It was boring and ugly and I could barely pay attention. The Bobcats were pressing the Hornets and it seemed to keep the the Bees in check to some extent.

The biggest cheers of the half came when Marcus Thornton checked in with 31 seconds to go in the second quarter. On defense he promptly left his man open for a wide open three pointer (which he fortunately missed).

The second half started just like the first one ended, with uninspired ball from both sides. Seven minutes through the third quarter the score was tied 57-57 and Marcus Thornton entered the game and found himself wide open for three. Brick. Ten seconds later he was whistled for a foul on the defensive end. Next time down the floor he hit an open jumper for two easy points, and later on he drove the lane and made a sweet layup (avoiding contact in the process). After that he was back to his confident self, taking any shot that came his way and asking for the ball. He took a hard foul with 8:15 to go, and got to the line for the first time in about 25 minutes of playing time. I’ve said it before, but he would be a lot better offensively if he went for contact instead of avoiding it. He finished with 7 points on 6 shots in 10 minutes.

Thornton is always going to be a guy that’s going to need a bunch of shots to get his points, and in the current Hornets offense it just doesn’t seem like he’s going to get them. It may sound weird to say, but he’s most valuable on a team which has no offensive skill on the bench. When he can create for himself and jack up shots, he can be a decent second unit offense all on his own. In New Orleans they don’t need that, so he’s relegated to doing things that aren’t his strengths.

Paul was remarkably passive (haha!) in the first three quarters, attempting only six shots compared with ten assists. Would he again remain that way in the fourth quarter as he had in recent games, or would we see the Chris Paul we were used to?

He started on the court, something we had yet to see this year, but was taken out with 9:30 to go and the Hornets up two. With eight minutes left the lineup on the floor was Thornton, Green, Smith, Pondexter, and Okafor. They held their own. Given 20 preseason guesses I would have never guessed that group would be on the floor together during the fourth quarter of a close game.

Paul would check back in with 7:30 left, and never really had the need to shoot. The defense was playing well, and the offense was getting good looks inside. I guess we can let this one slide since we won and all, but I think we could all use a little Chris Paul fourth quarter scoring action at some point. Steals, assists, good defense, and ball handling are nice, but we want scoring, Chris. Be a sport and hook us up.

He finished with 9 points, 14 assists, 3 turnovers, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals.

Other player notes

  • To check Emeka Okafor the Bobcats went with Kwame Brown. It worked.
  • Quincy Pondexter looks more like an NBA player every day. Already getting regular minutes, he will be a fan favorite before too long. He stayed on the floor until 3:30 left in a close game. Cheers to the rookie.
  • Marco Belinelli didn’t play in the second half.
  • Nor did Jarret Jack
  • David West was fantastic at scoring when the team needed a bucket. He was knocking down jumpers, finishing inside, and yelling “and one” when there was no reason at all to yell it. It was a true David West performance. He finished with 22 points on 15 shots to go with 6 boards.
  • Okafor finished with 14 points and 13 boards and was given the player of the game award at the Arena.

Other notes from the Arena

  • Rickey Jackson (NFL) was in the house.
  • Baby Boyz Brass band played during halftime and got me moving in my seat until they started to play Christmas covers. C’mon, guys. Christmas is over three weeks away and you’re a brass band in New Orleans. You’re better than that.
  • The Hornets went into halftime down 45-43, and headed into the third quarter ahead 43-42. How? A Boris Diaw basket was taken back after official review.
  • Air Hugo and Air Hugo Junior are hilarious. I really enjoy them. Perhaps a little too much.


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