Game On: Hornets @ Knicks

Published: March 2, 2011

Matchup: Hornets (35-27) @ Knicks (30-28)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 103.4(19th), Knicks 107.1 (9th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 100.6(6th), Knicks 106.1 (18th)

Pace: Hornets 91.0 (29th) , Knicks 98.8 (2nd)

As Chicken Little once said, “The sky is falling.” Not literally of course, but a quick look around the Hornets stratosphere reveals that fans are not exactly confident that the most recent two game losing streak is just a hiccup.

While there is reason to be concerned by the Hornets most recent slump, and Chris Paul’s recent play in particular, there are also reasons to be hopeful. Carl Landry is looking more and more beastly every time out there, and with Jarret Jack and Marco Belinelli returning to form, the once paper thin bench is now all of a sudden formidable.

If the Hornets are going to compete with an Knicks team that is playing inspired basketball after finally getting their guy– Carmelo– they are going to need to get better performances from Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor. Mek’ is obviously a little rusty since returning to injury, but he’s going to need to bring his best effort tonight. He is capable of controlling the middle against a NY frontcourt that is, well, lacking. Whether or not he does will likely determine how the Hornets fare.

As was so eloquently detailed by our very own Ryan Schwan (on the front page of ESPN), Chris Paul has been a bit odd this year. Ryan doesn’t get into detail about the most recent games, but Paul is struggling lately, and not in a John Stockton kind of way.


I’m a much better golfer than basketball player, so perhaps I’m used to blaming things on the brain instead of the body, but the way that Paul has been carrying himself mentally reminds me of the changes that I saw in Tiger Woods when he came back from his self imposed exile. Paul is not trying the shots he used to try, and when he does, it’s like he knows they aren’t going to work. Opponents sense this stuff, and they capitalize on it, further discouraging the mentally impaired athlete.

Although Tiger didn’t face the physical challenges that Chris did before beginning his comeback (I’m NOT referring to Tiger’s comeback from knee surgery), he was returning to a sport based on muscle memory. After a long break from making jumpers every day, and executing ridiculous moves that seem like fantasy to the other 99% of the NBA, it doesn’t look like Chris is quite as confident as he used to be. When he misses a few shots he quickly seems to come to the conclusion he isn’t going to make the next one, and instead decides ahead of time to defer to his teammates.

So pretty much, I don’t believe that this drop-off is just because of the knee.

Game Notes

  • Chauncey Billups is out.
  • Chris Paul is 8th in the NBA in total minutes played this year. WHAT!!?!?!? Give the guy a week off, for the love of Blaine Kern!
  • It’s possible this live chat will be going and it’s possible that it won’t be. I (Joe) have been convinced that chatting online is lower on my list of priorities than going to Mardi Gras Parades.
  • Check out Mikey’s piece – The New Chris Paul
  • And if you’re feeling especially festive, you can play the Hornets Drinking Game!


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