Hornets beat the Clippers

In the first game back from the All-Star break the Hornets looked sharp, they ran their plays extremely well, staggering screens all over for everyone, and put together a nice, easy 98-87 win over the Clippers. (Box Score)

Of course, part of the reason they looked so good was the fact the Clippers were missing Eric Gordon and Baron Davis, while Craig Smith and Chris Kaman had just returned from injuries of their own.  The Clippers, never defensively skilled, looked pretty lost out there, and the Hornets ran them through enough screens they got nice, open looks and converted them, shooting 52% for the game.

It really was a team effort for the Hornets, with three starters and two bench players reaching double figures, something I appreciated no end.

David West

Personally, I enjoyed the play of David West in that game more than anyone else.  Why?  Because he was dead set on making a point with Blake Griffin – perhaps he was sending a message to the newly minted All-Star that he too had played in the big game?

Now, in no way did he intimidate Griffin, but he was physical and when he could he delivered elbows, lowered his shoulder, and attacked Griffin in the post.  Griffin got frustrated early, earned a technical, and the game turned into a great battle as Griffin fought back, not backing down and cleverly drawing a pair of offensive fouls.

Chris Paul

Chris Paul continued to play without his brace, and I’m sure some of you will look at his great box score line and think he returned to form.  Not really.  I did love seeing him attack the paint more often than normal – but the Clippers left it open pretty often too.  It was also nice to see him assertive in the fourth  – but he ended up taking long jumpers, not going to the hoop.  In other words, though watching him play was fun as hell, and he looked more like Nov-Jan Chris Paul than Feb Chris Paul, I’m not yet ready to say he’s revitalized.

Other Observations:

  • Monty milked every foul he could from Gray and Smith to battle Griffin in the post – and they did a very good job.  Gray was, as usual, effective, and Smith . . . well . . . Landry is on the way.
  • Even with that, I’m probably not giving Gray enough credit.  He was active double-teaming, helping in the paint, and he neutralized Deandre Jordan for most of the game.  He only struggled when he had to guard Kaman 12 feet and out from the basket.
  • I’ve heard multiple times from insiders around the league that Craig Smith may be the strongest NBA player.  Proof:  Tonight, he rolled to the basket, Gray came charging down from the elbow, hit Smith . . . and bounced off.  Smith laid it in without giving any sign he noticed the 300+ behemoth that had just hit him.  Crazy.
  • What is with the Hornets 3-Pt defense?  For most of the season, we locked down the perimeter, but again we let a team shoot better than 45% from deep tonight – and again, like the past five games, that was significantly better than usual.  Getting tired of that.
  • I love Hubie Brown.  What’s more, I loved listening to him grunting “Nice!” every few offensive sets run by the Hornets.  He made a point to call out all the back screens and double screens being set by the Hornets to break Belinelli, Green and West free for open shots.  I also loved when he said Craig Smith had been “Out with an ankle.”  Strange dating habits that Smith has.
  • Willie and Belinelli combined for 29 points on 18 shots.  Honestly, if they can give us 65% of that nightly, we’re in good hands.
  • Jarrett Jack played well, and Monty used him next to Paul several times and tonight it worked.  If he can settle into something close to the form he had before we traded for him, Landry can keep doing just what he did in Sacramento (not even what he did in Houston), and Monty decides to play Gray as the primary backup center over Smith, the team’s 8-man rotation isn’t bad at all.
  • Cuban complained about the league and the Hornets trading for Landry.  Don’t be fooled, this has nothing to do with fiscal sanity like he’s trying to claim.  It’s entirely wrapped up in the fact the Hornets obviously just got better, and he doesn’t like that from a division rival.  I’ll point out that the Hornets submitted to the NBA – and by proxy, the owners – a budget for the season, and it was approved.  The Hornets remained within the budget with this trade.  Cuban has as much ground to complain as one of the Real Housewives do when they come off looking shallow and stupid.

Next game against the Timberwolves, let’s hope this is the start of a new streak.

31 responses to “Hornets beat the Clippers”

  1. “Gray was, as usual, effective, and Smith . . . well . . . Landry is on the way.”

    I lol’d. Can’t wait for Landry. I really believe we’re getting Houston Landry.

    On the 3pt shooting, what I’m noticing is that Ariza ends up getting stuck helping the big men and that usually leaves someone on the perimeter. If the big can find him, it’s usually a good 3pt shot. I think once Okafor back our overall defense is going to be even better.

  2. Monty praised Gray in his press conference. He said he only got 7 boards but was active, clogged the paint, and altered a lot of shots. I tend to agree. If Gray could cut down the fouls (and learn to set a screen) he could be a legit backup center in this league.

    • If we could combine Mbenga’s screens and shot blocking with everything else about Aaron Gray, the resulting monster would be too expensive to play for the Hornets…

    • dumbfounded by remarks a few are makin about Gray.
      Sometimes I am wondering if some are even watching the same at all.
      Or perhaps they don’t understand the game.
      To say Gray played sos so and even the remark below about his being to awfull to wacth is stupifying.
      His pics were awesome and the opposition players were lookng like punch drunk fighters coming off them.
      His own guards had opening not created by even better offensive linemen in the NFL.
      He sometimes blocks two pposition players himself leaving his player a sanctuary from which to shoot a jumper from.
      His stats don’t show it, but his guars should take him out for a free dinner after his quiet, unselfish play under the basket.
      So many tic tac fouls called against him last night wold have brought on a tech from more elite players complaining.
      He is not given the respect from refs, but it is what it is.
      However, I expect better from this group when it comes to undestanding team play and the hidden game within a game.

  3. I don’t mind Cuban doing what he can for his team, even if trying to help in this fashion belies a belief that it isn’t a lock to beat us on the court. What I mind is the idea he has that I’m stupid. And you. And you and you and you. That is what pisses me off.

  4. Cuban is way out of line. Interestingly, Phil Jackson was the first to gripe (before the fact) about this sort of scenario. Somehow, it’s only Laker and Dallas dollars that get used in Hornets transactions, as far as they’re concerned. They both just got a big gift with the collapse of Denver and Utah rosters, but they still want a stacked deck. Cuban wants no part of Hornets Renaissance, now that he has retooled his team to battle the Lakers and Celtics, and they may have trouble against a Hornets club with more footspeed and scoring potential. I hope it gets down to N.O./ Dallas and N.O./ L.A.

    “Hey, Mark Cuban: your tax dollars in action!”

  5. Hornets settled for way too many jump shots in the 4th quarter. Can’t wait for Landry and Mek. I can’t watch Gray and Smith play ANY more.

    I do hope we do another trade for a slashing guard type. Not much athleticism we have on the wings besides Ariza…but I’m happy that Green has been so consistent as a starter. This team would be in GREAT shape if they had a reliable offensive wing off the bench in addition to Landry and Mek.

    42, was that Q&A session with Demps before the Marcus trade?

    • Yes. He was on the team when I left the event, and was basically traded once I got settled on my couch. In fact, the event was cut short, and I think that’s why: to trade Marcus.

  6. The article about Cuban’s remarks said that we’re over the luxury tax. Is this true? I thought we were still under.

    • The word luxury does not appear, nor does the word tax.

      We are over the cap, as are most teams. Being over the cap makes it more complicated to add players. Being over the tax costs money.

  7. I feel like CP was very much like his old self early on. I think for the most part Hornets players just got a bit complacent when they realized the game was in hand (and I think they realized this pretty early). I want to say they were just doing what needed to be done rather than giving full intensity. That’s just my point of view, though.

    Off topic, what’s up with Blake Griffin getting so many minutes? He was noticeably exhausted early in the fourth. That just seems silly to me. I know they depend on him, but it was getting to the point that he could barely jump for a rebound. Just seems odd.

    It was good to see Ariza avoiding 3s. I know some of his drives didn’t end up all that well, but I’d prefer the chance for free throws than a bad shot. I hope he keeps practicing his shot, but in the meantime I’d like to continue to see him use his athleticism.

    • I agree with you about Griffin. They guy has been going non stop for the past week and a half. Not to mention him having a heavy heart about his friends passing. I don’t know if the have to play him that much because of trades/injuries or if he wants to play to take his mind off of grief.

      Either way its a lot to take on and you can tell he is tired. But man what I wouldnt give to have that guy in a Hornet uniform……

  8. A good win for the Hornets. Keep it up. Undefeated since the All-Star break. Say it while you can. I still think that trade was terrible. Landry better really show me something once he starts to play.

  9. Was anybody else worried that we were about to give up the lead in the fourh Q when the clippers went on their mini run? good game overall by the Hornets though… Lets start another winning streak

    • CUban will poop himself if we get JR, the mavs r after him now so if we steal JR after hes already P-OEd about us gettin hot carl.

    • We as Hornets fans should too. Especially if the team is playing well. Me, myself, I don’t mind being quiet and under the radar. 😕

      Just think about it, we have CP and can barely get nationally televised games. When he goes, whatever minimal amount of games we get now will go with him.

  10. A few observations

    1) Willie is ballin ATM, gettin to the rack and hitting j’s
    2) grays first half was appalling, his defense is ok against avg reserves and his offense is easy layups only (he misses them too much btw)
    3) CP looked alot better, more aggressive and finding teammates
    4) Belli looked like old school Peja tonight
    5) Ariza took the ball to the rack strong, not get to the rack then fade away and air ball. (a few times)

  11. “Unless this is outright price gouging, Cuban has no complaint, here. Asking the NBA to force the Hornets to make pure dollar-for-dollar trades would be a dereliction of duty for the league that owns a team and is charged with keeping them competitive. Nothing was backhanded here, and though Cuban also doesn’t like the cash considerations sent Sacramento’s way, the bottom line is that both teams traded two players that they weren’t using (Landry was buried in a deep Sacramento frontcourt) for players that could badly use down the road.

    And teams are taking on extra money these days, by the way. The Knicks just did it, sure, but the Toronto Raptors (struggling in the standings) also added more salary this week. So did the Cleveland Cavaliers, hardly the picture of smarts and potential. So did the Atlanta Hawks, a team that has struggled to sell tickets for decades, and one that may have more front office red tape than the NBA and Pentagon combined. And then halved, sure, but you get my point.

    Slippery slope argument from Mark? Maybe. Upset that a division rival just upgraded with a player they weren’t using? Perhaps. Mark Cuban, on a treadmill before a game, just riffing? You bet.

    Nothing to see here, move along.”

  12. The words “Gray” and “effective” should never be used in the same sentence when discussing basketball, PERIOD! The most embarrassing thing I ever saw of a 7ft “center” was the short uncontested flip shot at a wide open basket, which he missed, because he saw the defender rotating over. DUNK THE BALL!!!! If he was able to get any higher than 1.5 inches of the ground he might be a useful backup.

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