Game On: Hornets @ Timberwolves (Live Chat)

Published: February 25, 2011

What’s the saying, third time’s the charm? Yeah, I think that’s it. However I doubt that we ever would have imagined that it would apply here. The Hornets have faced the Timberwolves two times this year, and frankly, they were embarrassed both times. Two days after Christmas the Hornets went to Minnesota and lost by 15 to a team that was 7-24 at the time. And just two and a half weeks ago Minnesota came into New Orleans and drained 11 three’s en route to a 12 point victory that actually wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

The Hornets are out for blood in this game, as they are looking to start another long winning streak that will get them back into the race for home court advantage in the first round. Newly acquired forward Carl Landry will be in uniform, which will be huge if West can not play (death in the family). Emeka Okafor is hoping to play, however, and his return will be a welcome sight to Hornets fans as the defense has gone from elite to average with him out of the lineup.

The best news of all, however, might be the resurgence of Chris Paul. CP3 looked like his old self in the All-Star game last weekend and he carried that over to Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers. There was that extra bounce in his step, and he was definitely more aggressive than he had been in the previous month. The brace is off and CP3 seems ready to go. These next 23 games are the Olympic qualifying rounds. Players are getting refocused, rotations are being tightened, and coaches are as meticulous as ever. CP3 understands this and I have a feeling we will see the real CP3, not the fraud that took his place earlier this month.

Keys to Victory:

#1- Get Out on the Shooters

The Timberwolves drained 11 three-pointers in each of their wins against the Hornets this year, averaging 45% from behind the arc. On the season they average 7 made threes and shoot 37%. Huge difference. In game one it was Wesley Johnson, game two it was Anthony Tolliver. The wings are missing their rotations when the team collapses on Love and/or they are just choosing to pick their poison by leaving unproven players open. That has burned them in both games this season.

In the second game, the Hornets refocused their attention on the shooters and held the Wolves to just 44 points (they had 37 in the second quarter alone), but it was too little, too late. If New Orleans comes out with that defensive focus for the entire 48 minutes tonight, however, they can expect to finally beat these pesky T’Wolves.

#2- Backcourt Dominance

Chris Paul looks like he is back and Willie Green has been a beast since he took over the starting role. For those of you wondering why Demps didn’t make a move yesterday, just look at the play of Green since he entered the starting lineup. 17 PPG, shooting 54%, and perhaps most importantly, only 1 turnover per game despite the increased minutes. Additionally, Marco has looked much more comfortable as a gunner off the bench. He didn’t play much against Portland, but now the backup two guard is his and his alone and he responded with 12 points on 7 shots in just 16 minutes Wednesday night.

On the other end, the T’Wolves are forced to play rookie Wesley Johnson out of position since trading Corey Brewer. He will start at the two with Ridnour at the point and Sebastian Telfair/Wayne Ellington backing them up. This is the Hornets have to dominate, as Paul should be able to get into the paint at will and the Green/Belly duo should be able to get any shot they want against the inexperience SG duo. Add Jack into the mix and the Hornets guards should be able to create havoc against the worst defensive team in the NBA.

#3- Keep Kevin Love and Co. off the Free Throw Line

In the two games thus far, Minnesota is 45-50 from the free throw line against the Hornets. 22.5 points from the line, 33 points from behind the arc adds up to 55.5 PPG scored from these two areas. That can’t happen again if the Hornets expect to win. Like David West, Kevin Love is a power forward that you just can’t afford to send to the line. He hits 87% of his free throws and so far this season he is a perfect 19 of 19 against the Hornets.

This is where the addition of Carl Landry will be huge. The Hornets tried to play Jason Smith, DJ Mbenga, and David Anderson against Love for stretches in the last matchup and he simply embarrassed them. Landry should be able to hold his ground against Love and defend him without fouling. The Timberwolves half court offense is by no means a model of efficiency, so they need to rely on cheap points and free points in order to keep up with teams that score on their defense at will. That is why keeping them (and Love especially) off the line is imperative tonight.

Other News and Notes:

– The story has gotten out by now that the Hornets were involved in a potential three-team trade that would have seen them land Brandon Rush while sending out David Anderson. Count me amongst the people who could care either way about this deal. Personally I don’t think Rush would have cracked the rotation this year, especially in the playoffs. Next year he would have been good insurance in case Green and Belly both left, but I am sure the Hornets can lack a similar backup SG for less than the 3 million dollar figure that Rush has next season. And if they were looking to make him a backup SF, it would have just killed any chance of Q-Pon developing by next season.

– Timberwolves should have Anthony Randolph in uniform and I would expect him to get some minutes. Lucky for us, he will probably eat up Tolliver’s minutes- a guy who just killed us in the crucial second quarter last game.

– Love is going for an NBA record 45th double- double tonight. Reminds me of when CP3 got the steals record. Who was that against? My memory is saying Atlanta or Dallas, but it is foggy. Mad Hornets247 props to the first one to comment in with the correct answer. Added Bonus- who did he get the steal off of? I remember the play and I remember it leading to him trying to get a fast break going but pulling up when nobody was with him (typical). I can see the play in my mind, but I can’t remember the team. Grizzlies?? Man, I am getting old.

– This will be last meeting of the season. Hornets have not been swept by T’Wolves since 04-05 season.

– Vegas lists the Hornets as 6 point favorites. Hornets have failed to cover in 7 of last 9 verse Minnesota, but I think they will tonight. Defense steps up and Hornets win 101-90.

– We are working on setting up a live chat tonight after such an amazing turnout yesterday (over 1300 joined us over the 5 hours!!!) If people give showing up and participating at the level that they have recently, we will do them for every game. Not being a brown noser, but I seriously think Hornets fans are the most intelligent fans in basketball (at least the ones on our site). I was blown away by the quality of comments and questions yesterday.

– Last, but not least- Cap That Pic. I know it is a little odd but when I saw it, possibilities raced through my head. I wanna see what you got!


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