With a 20 point lead in the back pocket New Orleans softened up, stopped playing defense and let Cleveland right back into proceedings. A sign of that was the Cavaliers had just 1 turnover through the 4th quarter getting looks no matter their proximity to the basket. But it didn’t matter as the Hornets hung on thanks in large part to the 2nd quarter 18-2 run to win it 108-101 to extend their record out to 10-1.
This game took particular notoriety as Byron Scott returned to New Orleans as an opposing head-coach. I think Byron copped a lot of flack while he was here particularly for the dull and lifeless offense he instilled within the team. But defense was his calling card and you have to give him props for the job he did in revitalizing basketball within the city. I guess in a way you can’t associate the Hornets brand to the city of New Orleans without the job he did here.
So with that in mind let’s take a look into what was a game that should have been a blowout.
The Good Stuff:
- If we don’t mention David West‘s amazing performance then we wouldn’t be doing the NBA any justice. My man had a stellar 34 points on 20 shots, had 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. I have to say individually this was David’s best game because he thoroughly dominated on the block, getting anything he wanted. Cleveland just didn’t have anyone who could guard him.
- Marco Belinelli again is proving Dell Demps to be a freggin’ genius. The Italian sharpshooter added 20 points, 5 assists on 1 turnover and again showed his worth on defense. I really am pleasantly surprised with the play of Marco, he’s been aggressive showing his ability to drive, pass and play defense which were all things I thought he couldn’t do relatively well.
- Chris Paul had what was a quiet night. After a great first half Chris pretty much fell asleep the rest of the way, not necessarily by his own omission. He did finish with a 15 point, 10 assist and 6 steal night, but somehow it just didn’t feel complete. I guess that’s what happens to fans when they get used to the best point-guard in the NBA, they scoff at numbers like that, shame on me.
- Have to say I’m very excited about Quincy Pondexter as a project for the team. I dare say the day that the David West era comes to an end, Pondexter will be my new favorite Hornet. Defensively he’s sound, but the way he plays within the concepts of the game is just fascinating to watch. He takes smart shots, doesn’t force the issue to much while still trying to get his team-mates involved. What has me even more giddy is the fact that Monty Williams is there to tutor him. If Monty can make Q-Pon half the player that say Nicolas Batum is, I’ll be a happy man.
- We had some nice production from Willie Green and Jerryd Bayless tonight. I know I’m one of Jerryd’s harshest critics, but that’s only because I know he’s got so much potential. I watched him in Portland and I was really excited when he got here. He’s really played more of a point-guard role and it’s really restricted his play. But tonight he didn’t have a single turnover, something I’d like to see more and more of.
- Some nice team numbers, 9 blocks, only 9 turnovers and of the 39 made field goals 22 were assisted.
The Bad Stuff:
- When I turned on in the second half I was relaxed, chilled and easy going. And somehow when I saw the score creeping back I couldn’t help but think, “hang on they’re only down by 8 with 4 minutes to go…” And yet somehow it didn’t bother me that much. Then when we were only up by 4 with a minute to go I wasn’t happy. When you have a 20 plus point lead you don’t let teams (particularly bad ones) get a sniff. You could tell our defense was lagging because Cleveland got to the line an awful lot, didn’t turn the ball over and that is what kept them in the game. Monty and his staff have to get on his guys because elite teams just don’t do that and it’s safe to say we’re not elite, 10 and 1 record be damned.
- Trevor Ariza gives me fits sometimes. It seems that sometimes his shot is one of the worst in the league as he jacks up any and every thing in site. Tonight his free-throw shooting was abysmal (1 of 5) and he just didn’t really know what was going on. I expect him to get things right headed into this road trip, but he needs a confidence shot.
- While we held the Cavaliers to just 34.9% shooting from the field, they headed to the freeby line a hell of a lot. Of the 34 attempts at the charity stripe Cleveland converted 32 which is just amazing. Had they shot anywhere near the league average it’s safe to say the streak of consecutive sub-90-point-games-by-opponents is kept in tact.
- Jason Smith didn’t have a nice game, hopefully he pulls it together.
Other Outrageous Observations:
- If you wanted to laugh tonight at the expense of someone you had to tune in to Cleveland’s TV coverage of the game. Austin Carr a much respected former Cavalier is just funny to listen to, not necessarily because he comes up with witty, humorous jokes, but mainly because some of the things he says are just flat-out hilarious which make you question whether a human being should ever say such a thing. He reminds me a lot of Mark Jackson (the ESPN commentator) who thinks his catch-phrases have some kind of smarts behind them. But Carr is better because he just doesn’t seem to care. Here are some classics; “He got him a double bird!” (Sold a pump-fake) or “There’s a mouse in the house” or even his great line of “Get that weak stuff outta here!” The way he says it makes hit face-palm yourself going, “Oh god he didn’t say that did he?”
- Attendance was 14,800 nearing that 15,000 mark. But we have got to get more fans out to the arena. Sure there’s a lot of discussion going around as to why but I’d much rather have the bigger crowds there for February and March (heck even April) than in November.
- Joey Graham absolutely clobbered David West as he slapped him right over the skull, it was a flagrant-2 because of the malicious intent or what not, even if he realised a millisecond after he did it that it was stupid.
Next up is the Sacramento Kings on Sunday a squad I rate very highly, it will be the first time Luther Head seeks revenge on the franchise that cast him aside after the much nationally televised failed-physical.
Final Word: Unenthusiastic
Topics: Byron Scott, Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers, David West, Dell Demps, Jason Smith, Jerryd Bayless, Joey Graham, Luther Head, Marco Belinelli, Monty Williams, Mr. Cavalier, New Orleans Hornets, Nicolas Batum, Quincy Pondexter, Trevor Ariza, Willie Green