Yesterday’s game against the Bucks was the first of many wins for this year’s Hornets. There were many improvements from a year ago and it was noticeable that this team is far superior to the one that missed the playoffs last year. But, I guess they didn’t have Chris Paul then did they?
So head over the jump for a brief recap into what went right and wrong.
- First off let us pay homage to Chris Paul. For all the attention he received this summer about whether he’d be going or staying, Paul still manages to put up the amazing performances us Hornet fans have been accusomted to. Paul finished with 17 points and 16 assists which to say the least is quite impressive. But what sets Chris Paul above the rest is his low amount of turnovers, he had just one. So all you Bulls, Celtic, Jazz heck even you Wizard fans, this is why Chris Paul is the best point guard in the game, don’t you forget about it.
- I guess David West has to go in here because the guy put on a show in less than half and hour of game time. Despite being in foul trouble, West managed to lead all scorers with 22 on an efficient 9-14 from the field. DW hit numerous outside jumpers letting everything fly. Paul did a great job of finding West at the perfect time so that the defense couldn’t recover and close out on him, brilliant job boys!
- Many have now reached the conclusion that the Marco Belinelli trade was one of Dell’s work of brilliance. I say “one of” because I guess people are expecting more master strokes. But to get rid of a bust for a competent starter who can shoot, attack the basket, and rebound a little bit is just insane. The Italian finished with 18 points on 6-15 shooting, but he had numerous wide open jumpers he should’ve hit but didn’t. What I liked was that he did most of his work at the free-throw line, showing that this team isn’t going to be primarily a jump shooting team.
- I have to commend Trevor Ariza for the team job he did. Offensively he was a bit of a basket case because his first shot was one that had me screaming at the top of my lungs (long fade away jumper). But his defense more than made up for it. Apart from the clutch defensive play on John Salmons at the end Ariza constantly harassed Buck players into tough places on the floor, questionable passes and a few turnovers. Ariza finished with 4 steals.
- From the bench there was some albeit not great production from the bench. Thornton and Jason Smith came off the bench and added a little spark.
Smith scored 8 points on 3-10 shooting, but of the 7 misses he had I would say 7 were wide open shots he should have hit. I was very frustrated with Smith but he showed his value down the stretch subbing in for David West a number of times and played better than expected defense in the post.
As for Thornton in 11 minutes he put up 8 points on 3-6 shooting. What I find amazing is that he did that in 11 minutes. Imagine if he had 20?
- With any game it’s hard not to find bad things amongst the team’s performance. The first of these was our bench. As much as I love our starting lineup our bench is going to kill us in some games. We were very fortunate that our starters did such a great job to start the game because had it been the other way round I easily could have seen a 10-20 point deficit going into halftime. This bench needs to be reinvigorated energy. Instead guys like Mbenga, Green and Stojakovic came out and gave a sluggish performance that easily erased at double digit lead. For a playoff team it’s a big no-no when your bench comes in and relinquishes a nice lead the starters have given them. It’s their job to protect leads, and it’s their job to chase down deficits.
- D.J. Mbenga. Oh Boy did he suck. His pick and roll defense was atrocious, I think he got dunked on and he kept fouling people. I find it hard to understand how a guy like Mbenga gets backup minutes while Aaron Gray sits on the bench in street clothes.
- Where is Emeka Okafor? Last I heard there were reports he was with Michael Douglas in the African Congo hunting for lions…
- Not really a bad thing, but we have to make wide open shots. I’m looking at you Belinelli, Ariza and Smith.
- I kind of like our rotation but Monty still seemed to be tinkering with it just to get a feel of who works well with who.
- The interior defense looked okay but we still need to stop getting fouls called on us. Can’t be in the bonus with 7 minutes to go in a quarter.
- As an Australian it’s nice to see Bogut still being able to perform with one hand. But his right elbow really is injured, he just can’t shoot with it.
On to the Denver Nuggets who killed the Jazz, I am indeed scared.
Final Word: Win
Topics: Aaron Gray, Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul, D.J. Mbenga, David West, Dell Demps, Emeka Okafor, Jason Smith, Marco Belinelli, Marcus Thornton, Milwaukee Bucks, Monty Williams, New Orleans Hornets, Peja Stojakovic, Trevor Ariza, Willie Green