It’s really difficult to personify the New Orleans Hornets. It’s tough because the reality of what this team does well, consistently, is unknown. We all know that Chris Paul and David West are so good and are the staples of this team, but everything else is a matter of which day of the week it is. The best metaphor I can think of that describes this team is the drought and flood cycle of the Eastern Coast of Australia. To summarize the droughts are in the extreme dry and the floods in the extreme wet. The Hornets runs of 10-0 are great, but the bench also gives up 10-0 runs. Sure there are great people in Australia and sure there are some great players on the Hornets roster (Paul and West) but is that really enough to combat the nature of the land or the nature of the team?
The Hornets did give it their all tonight, you have to give them that. I don’t really want to paint a picture of “doom and gloom” because we aren’t really in that place (yet). However I just can’t give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to close games, no matter who the opponent is.
Tonight’s game was a good one for the Hornets, they fought tooth and nail to get back into the game and try and take the lead, but they never really could. The one time they did it was immediately relinquished on the next Lakers possession. Many will try to say this is a “character loss” but the truth is there is no such thing. You either win or lose, there is a reason one or the other happens. I take no solace in emotional victories, there is only two outcomes and if you don’t win then I don’t care.
With two minutes left in the fourth the Hornets were down by just 4 but the world champions were able to execute down the stretch thanks in large part to Kobe Bryant. That Golden State loss is looking worse by the minute.
Chris Paul: B
Anytime Chris Paul has 0 steals you can bet your bottom dollar the team comes away with the loss. His usual “peskiness” was not there tonight. It showed because the Hornets couldn’t even bother the Los Angeles ball club for long stretches. I suppose there isn’t much he can do when the Lakers run their sets through Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom, but still…
Marco Belinelli: B+
Statistically speaking Marco Belinelli had a very nice game. He had 15 points, shot 3-4 from three point range and played within himself. I can’t really criticize him because he wasn’t really at fault tonight and his role is to spot up and be active off the ball and he did that.
Trevor Ariza: B+
Again statistically Trevor Ariza had a decent game. He played within himself (for the most part) and took spot up three point shots. If the drive wasn’t there he’d try and reset things. However defensively he could not contain Kobe Bryant, if it wasn’t him then Lamar Odom would have his way. The Hornets don’t really match up well with the Lakers so in some ways it’s no fault of his own. He finished the game with 17 points on 11 shots, connected on 3 of 6 of his three’s, had 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. A well rounded game, even if it was a futile effort.
David West: B
Offensively David West was outstanding he scored 23 points on 18 shots, had 4 offensive rebounds (12 total) and was very active in his off the ball screens. His defense though is another thing entirely. While David is one of the major reasons this team has more wins than it has losses his defensive play is costly. Sure he has a sore ankle, tough lower back and other injuries he hasn’t disclosed. But the Hornets have to count on him to make plays on the defensive end, and by make plays I mean to contain the likes of Lamar Odom from not dropping 17 on the team.
Emeka Okafor: B
All the grades so far have panned out to be B’s for the bee’s, but Okafor’s double-double seemed somewhat un-noticable. He was extremely active on the glass, but the Lakers scored 50 in the paint negates any of his efforts. Sure he had 2 blocked shots, but one of them resulted in an immediate Laker point in the next second. Okay it may “pad the stats” but there were no altered shots tonight, just a wide open freeway.
Wild Card Grade, N/A: F
Do we even have a bench?
Next up is the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center, cross your fingers a trade gets done between the New Jersey Nets and the Colorado outfit in the next 48 hours…
Final Word: Uninspired