Hornets can’t hold onto lead, as Blazers surge to victory

Published: February 17, 2011

After a difficult two and a half weeks, Monty Williams seemed willing to do whatever it would take for the Hornets to head into the All-Star break with a little momentum. Four of his starters got 40+ minutes and reserve guard Jarrett Jack got 31, as Williams shortened his rotation, knowing that his team had six days off to rest. The Blazers, however, utilized a similar strategy and were able to come out victorious.(box) The reason? Surprisingly, it was because they won the point guard battle.

David West and LaMarcus Aldridge each had fantastic games, going off for 27 and 34 respectively. The two teams matched each other at the two guard position, as Willie Green and Wesley Matthews each poured in 24. At center, neither team really got much from their starters, as Jason Smith scored 4 points and Dante Cunningham had only three. Each team only had one significant contributor on the bench (Jack for the Hornets, Rudy F. for Portland), and Ariza v. Batum came out to a relative draw.

The difference in the game was that Portland got an efficient game from Andre Miller, who scored 18 points while producing 7 assists to just 2 turnovers. CP3 on the other hand, scored just 8 points and barely produced more assists than turnovers (5 to 4). It was just an odd game for him, as he never took a shot in the paint, missed two free throws, and just didn’t seem to have a feel for the game, especially late.

Portland’s defense isn’t exactly Lockdown Central, either, as evidenced by the fact that Jarrett jack got 5 shots in the paint and Willie Green had seven. There was a time when Paul would have sliced and diced a team like this up, but that time wasn’t tonight. I know Hornets fans are holding on to hope that Emeka will come back and save the Hornets from this losing streak, but I don’t see how having Emeka automatically gets CP3 his game back. And when it comes down to it, this team will go as CP3 goes, and tonight CP3 did not show the ability to get into the lane.

Other News and Notes:

– 6 minutes, 1 shot tonight from Marco Belinelli. Looks like Willie Green has got the starting two guard position on lock, and it would hard to envision a scenario in which Marco gets it back. That being said, the Hornets were horrible from behind the arc tonight against a team that can give up three’s in bunches, so if Belly is traded, hopefully it will be for a three-point gunner.

– Or maybe MT5 can assume that role, although he did not tonight- going 2-6 in just 12 minutes (1-2 from three). Aggressive as ever on the boards, but he also picked up some unnecessary fouls due to a combination of aggressiveness and being out of position. It will be interesting to see who will be the two guard spark off the bench at the end of this year. Will it be Marco, Thornton, or someone Dell brings in?

– Portland found ways to get Aldridge the ball late, and the Hornets did not do the same for West. You would like to have seen if David could have matched Aldridge shot for shot, but we didn’t get that opportunity.

– Jack was solid offensively but he seemed lost all too often on the defensive end. The guy is very limited as to the type of players he can match up with on the defensive end. He lacks the lateral quickness to stay with most PG’s, and most SG’s can simply shoot over him.

– With the win, Portland moves ahead of the Hornets into 5th out West. New Orleans is 6th, 1/2 game ahead of Denver and 1 1/2 games ahead of Memphis and Utah. Phoenix is only 1 game behind in the loss column. Not much room for error for the Hornets, who seem destined to be fighting for a 5-8 seed in the second half of the year. The 5 or 6 seed means OKC or Dallas, the 7 or 8 seed means San Antonio or Los Angeles.

– Hornets do not play again until next Wednesday, at home against the Clippers. COnsider Okafor probable for that game. The following day is the trading deadline.


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