Game On: Hornets @ Clippers

Published: March 26, 2012

Just four days ago, the Hornets shot 58% and had five players in double figures, as they beat the Clippers 97-90 in Chris Paul’s return to New Orleans. Unfortunately, the only thing people wanted to talk about after the game was Jason Smith’s foul on Blake Griffin, and now the Hornets travel to LA and many are beginning to wonder if there will be some form of retaliation. Jason Smith is still serving his suspension, but all that means is that someone else might have to pay for the sins of Sir Smitty.

As for the game itself, the Hornets will be shorthanded again, with Smith, Ariza, and Okafor all out and Kaman 50/50 to play. The Hornets won the last game by attacking the Clippers defense all night, which resulted in some uncontested shots and 34 free throw attempts. They played the game Monty wants them to play, for the most part; focusing on solid defense that makes the opponent take contested jumpers, while remaining patient on the offensive end. In fact, this game could have been a blowout if not for some of the unforced turnovers the Hornets made.

Expect a methodical pace again tonight, and a game that will be filled with a lot of emotion. The Clippers fans will want payback for Smith’s hard foul, and it might get chippy early. If the Hornets can hang in for the first three quarters, it will be interesting to see Paul try to work his 4th quarter magic against his old squad. Lately, Paul has been a one man show late in close games for the Clips, as every other player on that team is way too one-dimensional to take over late, and Coach Del Negro lacks the creativity to put his players in optimum situations. So it could be Paul vs. the Hornets, and the winner of that battle could determine the fates of Anthony Davis, Vinny Del Negro, and two entire organizations! A little too much? Okay, I thought so- but you gotta try to find a way to pump people up for a 9:30 game on a Monday night.

News and Notes:

– The game will be on NBATV tonight, meaning that when the Hornets win, they will show a quick box score of the game and then immediately move on to something about Kobe or the Heat. Book it.

Vegas Zone: Hornets are 9.5 point underdogs and the over/under is at 181.5, both up a half of point since opening. For several reasons, I think this could be “one of those games” for the Hornets, as they begin their road trip and meet a hostel crowd. I don’t have a feeling one way or the other on the over/under, but I would take the Clippers -9.5.

– I have been saying for 4 weeks now that I think Eric Gordon’s return date will be April 4th, and I am sticking to it. No reason to try and throw him in during the middle of this road trip. Just wait until the team gets back home and give the home crowd something to get excited about. After the road trip, 7 of the next 10 will be at home.

Lotto Balls- Washington hosts Detroit tonight, and a Wizards victory combined with a Hornets loss puts the Hornets in the #2 spot. Because of all of the scenarios where X team owns Y teams pick, I have tried to come up with a power rankings version of who to root for/against. Here goes:

Who to Root for:

1. New Jersey- Now that Portland owns their pick, you want that pick to be as low as possible. They are sitting at #4 now, but can easily leapfrog 3-4 teams if they get hot. 2. Rockets- If they make the playoffs, they lose their own pick. They already have Knicks pick and Dallas pick (if not top 20), so you don’t want them to have 3 picks in top 22. Their pick would go to New Jersey coincidentially.

3. Golden State, Portland, New York, Phoenix and Milwaukee- All three of these teams could surpass (or stay ahead of) Minnesota if Wolves keep falling, giving the Hornets two top 10 picks. Ideally, the Warriors would have tanked so that they would have kept their own pick, but they won’t finish bottom 7, so the pick will go to Utah. With so much talent already, we want Utah to have as bad a pick as possible.

4. Washington- They have blown two big leads in the past week, showing teams around the league how to pull off the Tank with style. Still, their schedule is far easier than the Hornets, and they should give the #2 spot up to us now that they have Nene- no matter how hard they try not to.

Who to Root Against:

1. Minnesota- DUH. Rubio and Pekovic are hurt, but they keep playing hard. Still, playoffs is extremely unlikely. Pick should fall in between 9 and 13, with a very small chance that someone in the bottom of the East gets hot and Minny totally nosedives. In that case, maybe 8.

2. Detroit, Toronto, and Sacto- I know we have been rooting for them because we don’t want the Hornets to surpass them, but now we must shift gears. The Hornets aren’t catching any of those teams this late in the year. They will have a bottom three record, that is a lock. What we need is for New Jersey to pass these teams, to ensure that Portland does not get an elite talent  in this draft.

– I never brag, but I think this week’s podcast is our best in a while, so give it a listen if you got 90 minutes to kill. And looking ahead, we will have Dell Demps on the show soon, so if you think of a question, tweet it, put it in the comments, etc. and we will try our best to get it answered.


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